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

Book chapter


Morrison, C. and Sacchetto, D. 2014. Migrant labour between Russia and Italy: from strategic options to “geography of needs”. in: Pajnik, M. and Anthias, F. (ed.) Work and the challenges of belonging: Migrants in globalizing economies Newcastle upon Tyne Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 28-51
Chapter titleMigrant labour between Russia and Italy: from strategic options to “geography of needs”
AuthorsMorrison, C. and Sacchetto, D.
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.

Research GroupEmployment Relations group
Page range28-51
Book titleWork and the challenges of belonging: Migrants in globalizing economies
EditorsPajnik, M. and Anthias, F.
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Place of publicationNewcastle upon Tyne
ISBN
Hardcover9781443858113
Publication dates
Print01 Jun 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited05 Dec 2014
Output statusPublished
Web address (URL)http://www.cambridgescholars.com/work-and-the-challenges-of-belonging
LanguageEnglish
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