Transnationalism, Mobility and Migration in the Sociology of Work: A Missed Encounter

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Devi SACCHETTO, University of Padua, Italy
Claudio MORRISON, University of Middlesex, United Kingdom
It has long been recognised that sociological studies of labour need to account for changes induced by globalised capitalism (Thompson, Smith 2009) no less than transnational studies require greater attention to the social if wanting to generate better analysis as well as more viable policy recommendations (Castles 2003, 2010). This article intends to reconceptualise and problematize the transnationalism approach considering class subjectivities based on the interplay of interests and identities (Thompson, Smith 2009; Meardi 2007). Transnationalism is often negatively associated with decontextualized, fluid processes as well as empirically with individualistic solutions and loss of collective consciousness (McIlroy and Croucher, 2013; Smith 2006). The association of transnational, migration and diaspora studies with various aspects of the cultural turn, particularly its obsession with identity at the expense of class has further widened the gap. In this respect the notion of mobility power within labour process theory represents a significant innovation, but transnational spaces need to be identified to account for the social transformation induced by mobility. On the basis of interviews with migrant workers and analysts in post-soviet space the research intends to develop a transnational approach to labour studies. Methodologically, the study assumes the worker’s point of view – a wealth of experiences and knowledge built across spaces – which allows accounting for temporal and geographical stretching. The post-soviet space represents a historically significant case for the exercise of mobility power as a form of workers’ resistance. It is also a departure from models of migration and identities established in ‘Western’ English-speaking literature. Moving to a transnational agenda in the study of work should therefore help the sociology of work to remain relevant as well as contributing to more balanced accounts of migration and mobility processes.