Migrant labour between Russia and Italy: from strategic options to “geography of needs”

Morrison, Claudio and Sacchetto, Devi (2014) Migrant labour between Russia and Italy: from strategic options to “geography of needs”. In: Work and the challenges of belonging: Migrants in globalizing economies. Pajnik, Mojca and Anthias, Floya, eds. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, pp. 28-51. ISBN 9781443858113

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Abstract

Can migrant workers gain recognition as fully fledged and multifaceted social agents rather than being classified as mere economic factors or diasporic beings? This chapter looks at labour migrants’ strategies reviewing the experience of construction workers moving across the EU and the former Soviet Union. The study unveils their aspirations and expectations and show how they translate into strategic options. Migrants’ accounts also reveal how they perceive the structural differences between these two geo-political spaces, ultimately drawing their own economic geography of countries of origin and destination.
The research on which the study is based consists of ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth interviews with Moldovan and Ukrainian construction workers and key experts based in Italy, Russia and Moldova. The analysis focuses on both strategies and class identities. Worker’s strategizing is understood as actively effecting migration flows as well as re-constructing ideationally migration spaces. Conversely, migration experiences have a bearing in redefining their working class identities. These issues exist within two areas of scholarly debate. Within migration scholarship, this approach embraces a social transformation perspective (Castles 2010, Massey et al. 1993, Massey and Taylor 2004), exploring issues of social reproduction away from traditional concerns with integration through social mobility. Within industrial relations, the research challenges methodological nationalism by identifying transnational spaces, rather than singular labour markets, as the terrain where conflict is articulated (Lillie and Greer 2007, Meardi 2012). As a result, a more nuanced picture emerges where such workers appear as more than just victims or marginal actors in niche labour markets. Agency is manifested through the expansion of strategic options and geographic destinations. We conceptualise these findings in terms of migrant’s “mental maps” and “geography of needs”. Mental maps are made of migrant’s aspirations and expectations projected onto transnational spaces. The association of social, economic and civic needs to specific geographical areas generates migrants’ own geography of social spaces where these needs can be pursued.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > Business School > Leadership, Work and Organisations > Employment Relations group
Item ID: 13976
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Claudio Morrison
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2014 13:15
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2018 13:45
URI: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/13976

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