Not All Paths Are Paved: The Role of Social Networks on Ageing Non-EU Migrants' Economic Incorporation

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal 11 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Jonnabelle ASIS, University of Brescia, Italy
Demographic changes brought about by improved life expectancies, decreasing fertility rate, and increasing migration to more developed countries all happen within the context of growing social inequality. Against this background, it becomes important to study the situation of the ageing migrant who encounters a double jeopardy: dealing with social consequences of relocating to a new country, and renewed insecurity and risks that accompany the ageing process.

Taking the meso-level analysis of the social network approach, the research investigates the extent social networks play in enhancing or inhibiting economic incorporation. Strong ties based on homophily are fundamental to access information and various resources for migrants, but can also constrain access to more diverse information and resources (which weak ties can bring) since they serve more bonding than bridging function. While networks play a positive role of offering employment possibilities, they also restrict them to the same labour market. Through social network analysis, the study seeks to answer which network typologies give rise to certain types of work trajectories/histories.

The retrospective longitudinal data comes from face-to-face egocentric network surveys and qualitative interviews of 105 non-EU migrants, 50 years old and above, and residing in Brescia. Brescia is an important field site since it is one of the Italian cities which has a good number and diversity of migrants, ranking fourth in terms of the number of migrants, after Rome, Milan, and Torino. While the social network component captures the respondent’s job search history and persons who helped them land the job throughout their working life, as well as their social support network, the narratives will provide context regarding their migration and work experience, and a zooming in on the process of network formation, and the factors and circumstances explaining the direction of the paths.