The Precarization of Migrants' Life: An Intersectional Analysis Based on the Italian Case

Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Francesca Alice VIANELLO, University of Padua, Italy
Devi SACCHETTO, University of Padua, Italy
This paper explores the process of precarization of migrants’ life engendered by the economic crisis, drawing on a longitudinal analysis based on 40 biographical interviews carried out in 2011 with Moroccan and Romanian women and men living in Italy and then reinterviewed in 2014-15. We study with an intersectional perspective the transformations of migrants’ position in the occupational structure and their strategies to cope with the informalization and casualization of labour.

The economic crisis has different implications on migrants’ labour careers. Men and women fired by manufacturing factories, find only short term and insecure jobs through temporary agencies or move back to informal work (i.e. street vendors, agriculture, domestic/care work). Furthermore, the male unemployment provokes the entrance in the labour market of a significant quota of women (mainly Moroccan), but they find work mostly in the informal economy.

Migrants adopt different strategies to face precarization. First, they cut their expenses and save money. Secondly, they acquire new skills attending training courses, in order to increase their employability. Third, they have more than one job at the same time. Fourth, one-earner couples turn to dual-earner couples. Finally, Moroccan migrants apply for the Italian citizenship, in order to move freely to other European countries where they could enjoy a richer welfare state.

This process of flexibilization, informalization and casualization of the labour market is producing important social transformations: it is increasing social inequalities between natives and migrants, since it is transforming migrant workers in working poors and pushing them back in the informal economy; it is increasing gender inequalities in the public space, given that women (mainly Romanian) return to be highly segregated in the domestic sector; but at the same time it is reducing gender inequalities within the family (mostly Moroccan), because both partners work.