Collective Practices of Low-Paid Latinos in London. Challenging the 'ethnic Lenses' of Migration and Labour Studies

Friday, July 18, 2014: 6:15 PM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Davide PERO , Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Gabriella ALBERTI , Work and Employment Relations Division, Leeds University Business School, Leeds, United Kingdom
Collective Practices of Low-Paid Latinos in London:

Challenging the ‘Ethnic Lenses’ of Migration and Labour Studies

This paper discusses collective contentious practices of migrant workers in Britain who organise to improve their disadvantaged work and life conditions. It will draw on ethnographic data and cultural productions about labour organising initiatives in the cleaning sector such as ‘The 3 Cosas Campaign’ and ‘Justice for Cleaners’ whereby migrant workers have been struggling for more dignified and equitable working conditions with the support of their communities, within and without formal and recognised trade unions. This discussion will critically consider the complex relationships that developed between these workers (many of whom are from Latin America) and local labour and community organizations, focusing on the tension between the class-based and so called ‘ethnic’ identities of the diaspora groups under study.

The paper aims to contribute to the theoretical debate on how to apply the framework of intersectionality (Yuval-Davies 2011) to the study of migration and labour movements.  Inspired by recent critiques of the resilience of methodological nationalism (Glick Schiller and Caglar 2006; Glick Schiller 2008), our examination will question prevalent theorizations of collective action and migrants’ forms of political engagement  persisting  in social movements and migration studies. It will also question the ethnocentric and institutionalist focus of traditional industrial relations literature highlighting the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of migrants’ politics across the literature on migration and labor relations.

Schiller, N. G., Çaglar, A., & Guldbrandsen, T. C. (2006). Beyond the ethnic lens: Locality, globality, and born‐again incorporation. American Ethnologist, 33(4), 612-633.

Schiller, N. G. (2008). Beyond Methodological Ethnicity. Local and Transnational Pathways of Immigrant Incorporation. Willy Brandt Working Papers Series 2/08. Malmö: University of Malmö.

Yuval-Davies (2011). The Politics of Belonging. Intersectional Contestations. London: Sage.