Migrant Families in Italy: Gendered Reconciliation Processes Between Social Reproduction and Paid Work

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Arianna SANTERO, University of Turin, Italy
Manuela NALDINI, University of Turin, Italy
Only recently has attention in gender studies on migration shifted from the role of migrants as caregivers in "natives" families (Hochshild 2000, Ehrenreich and Hochshild 2002, Yates 2012, Campani and Chiappelli 2014) to the transnational maternity of female migrants (Kofman et al. 2000, Erel 2009, Reynolds Solomos and Zontini 2010, Kraler et al. 2011). Still limited, particularly in the European countries of more recent immigration like Italy, is attention to the family/work reconciliation strategies implemented by migrant mothers (Chinosi 2002, Santero 2008, Bonizzoni 2014). There is a lack, even in countries with longer traditions of immigration, of longitudinal studies not only on practices but also on reconciliation desires and plans, and research focused not only on the point of view of the mothers but also on broader intra-family dynamics. Yet these are issues with major policy implications.

The paper focuses on the plans and practices of work/family reconciliation of immigrants (singles and couples) in transition to parenthood, born in Morocco, Peru and Romania and living in Piedmont, an Italian region in which the incidence of immigrants is above the national average. Analysis is made of longitudinal interviews conducted with 9 couples of migrants expecting their first child, and 20 semi-structured interviews with migrant parents with children aged 0 to 6. Information on parents of Italian origin is also drawn from examination of the literature and 64 longitudinal interviews conducted with 17 couples of middle-class Italian parents resident in the same region. Gendered reconciliation processes between social reproduction and paid work, and the gap between ideals and practices, depend on social resources, the institutional context, the migratory history, and the employment and legal status of the migrant parents. Exit by the mother from the labour market, in a context of increased work precarization for fathers, exposes these families to greater vulnerability.