How Migrants Do Family: Citizenship Entitlements, Family Rights, Gender and Social Stratifications

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Majella KILKEY, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
Domenica URZI, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom
While physical controls at borders and internally, and related practices such as detention, expulsion and deportation, remain important tools in European states' approaches to migration management, a further key instrument adopted operates through allocating differential rights to different categories of migrants in their entry, residence, labour market access and social / welfare entitlements. This results in a hierarchy of stratified rights among migrants – ‘civic stratification’ (Morris 2002) – whose particular positioning within which is a critical factor shaping their labour-market experiences. Less often acknowledged is that embedded within patterns of civic stratification is a hierarchy of family-related rights. Thus, migration policies also produce systems of what Kraler (2010: 15) terms ‘stratified reproduction’ – ‘the ability of migrant families to reconstitute their families during processes of migration’. This article examines the inter-relationships between the systems of civic stratification and of stratified social reproduction, and how these impact how migrants ‘do family’. It takes as its case study the agriculture sector of Southern Sicily in Italy, a labour-market sector which has become a migrant niche in recent years in the context of the global restructuring of the international division of labour, and focuses specifically on Tunisian and Romanian agricultural workers. The former are Third Country Nationals and the latter, since 2007, are European Union citizens; as such the two groups occupy deeply contrasting positions with Italy’s migration regime. Drawing on 30 semi-structured interviews with Tunisians and Romanians and ethnographic observations of their living and working conditions, we examine how family-life is configured within the opportunities and constraints rendered by their migrant status. We conclude that while socio-legal entitlements have an important bearing on how migrants ‘do family’, so too do gender and family norms related to childrearing and the division of domestic and paid labour.