Latin Women and Italian Families: Agency Beyond Structural Constraints and Exploitation

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Maurizio AMBROSINI, university of Milan, Italy
Latin  immigrant women and also men are largely involved in Italy, as in Spain, in Greece and in other countries,  in the supply of care services and they are especially so in elderly care. Their work is embedded in a specific care regime:  it is undertaken mainly in the recipients' households, often around the clock, and on a live-in basis, so that it supports a system in which the family remains the central locus of care delivery to frail people. Secondly, it employs a large number of workers irregular in regard to the employment relationship, and often also to their legal status. 

The conditions of Latino women are particularly heavy: they are often young mothers, in many cases single mothers,  who leave their children at home, struggling to care them at a distance, and they face many difficulties if they decide to reunite their children with them.

The paper will present the results of various research studies on the topic carried out in Italy within the time-span of a decade. It will discuss how irregular migration is in fact tolerated, when inserted in care work at the service of the growing needs of native families; how the system that I call “invisible welfare” works; and how Latin care workers find possibilities of agency, despite the constraints of the legal order and the exploitation they often experience at work. Several resources will be highlighted, ranging from  support from their networks, to “reverse remittances” they receive from their families, from  relations with their employers, to the action of trade-unions and NGOs, from marriage alliances to the aasertion of social utility of their  work