IMISCOE Standing Committee “Immigration, Immigrants and Labour Markets in Europe” (IILME) Call for Proposals for the 20th IMISCOE Annual Conference, 3-6 July 2023, Warsaw & online

27 October 2022

The Standing Committee on Immigration, Immigrants and Labour Markets in Europe (IILME) focuses on the links between increasing migration, labour market dynamics and access to welfare resources. These are central to the discourse on both immigration and integration policies of newly arrived migrants and their children. Negative views on the socio-economic effects of migration, often based on scarce scientific or empirical evidence, influence the political debate around these themes. However, little knowledge exists on the role of labour market actors in influencing immigration and integration policies and practices, as well as the migrants’ labour market positions and experiences.

We explore the complexities and contradictions of the interaction between migration phenomena and the labour market in a time of rapidly changing migration, integration and labour market policies. The originality of the program lies in its theoretical framework. We seek to combine the tradition of industrial relations, political economy — especially research on segmented labour market(s) — and gender studies to explore multiple intersectional inequalities as well as the precarization of migrant and ethnic workers within labour markets. Find out more about us at: https://iilme-research.org 

IILME calls for panel, workshop, and paper proposals that fall into the framework of the Standing Committee.

In addition to the above, for the 2023 Annual Conference, IILME is particularly interested in paper proposals dealing with the following topic:

Does regulation prevent or produce irregularity?

Analysing the practices and consequences of regulatory interventions in migrant labour

“The illegal labour migrant” is often invoked by governments, political representatives and media as a threat to the local constituency (i.e. the underground ‘parallel society’), to “our” welfare systems and to local working conditions. In this discourse the unauthorised and or irregular migrant is at the centre.

Scholars have criticized the supposed direct link between migration and ‘informal economy’ during the past thirty years (Portes et al. 1989; Sassen 1997; Williams and Windebank 1998), arguing that informalization of the economies of global North is not generated by immigrants and their culture, but rather by the structural changes in these economies (Slavnic 2010). Recently, inspired by Reyneri (2001), Neergaard and Selberg suggest that we should “unpack” irregular labour migration by considering the concrete level of regulation of residence status (authorised vs unauthorised) and employment status (regular vs irregular) as distinct entities first, and secondly how these relate to each other, and how that works out in practice on labour markets (forthcoming).

While both authorised migrants and non-migrants may and do work in the informalized economy, the employment of unauthorized migrants in irregular work is widespread and systemic in this sector in Europe. This can be explained from the point of view of workers by the lack of alternatives that unauthorized workers have, but many scholars argue that – on a structural level - this is also the result of employer's demand for cheap labour shunned by other workers (citizens and authorised alike) and state policies and practices accepting or facilitating this.

Employers’ preferences for migrant workers – irregular or not - have been widely explained by their attempt to minimize labour costs in terms of wages and reproduction of labour (Burawoy, 1976; Fellini et al., 2007; Rodriguez, 2004). Employers might take further advantage of migrants’ unauthorized status to force them into accepting poorer or even irregular working conditions (Anderson, 2000). Recruitment of authorised and/or unauthorised migrants often occurs through intermediaries, migrant social networks and private employment agencies which operate in the migrants’ communities in the arrival country but also in the countries of origin. Such agencies have become prominent in influencing the flow of migrant labour (Findlay and McCollum, 2015; McCollum, 2013; Findlay et al., 2013) but also their unprotected status in countries of destination. These intermediaries and their role in irregularity remain under-investigated (Bach, 2007; Goss and Lindquist, 1995).

Such understanding of irregularity in labour migration highlights 1) how State and capital might have different stakes in handling unauthorised migration and irregular work, and 2) how the study of interventions of different stakeholders linked to irregularity should go beyond the enforcement of migration law against the presence of unauthorised migrants and/or the legal status of workers on the labour market.

By inviting contributions from a variety of disciplines (Law, Political Economy, Labour Market Studies, Policy Analysis), this Call for papers aims to contribute to current state-of-the-art through papers exploring a wide range of national and supranational regulatory interventions, processes or mechanisms which have an impact on irregularity of migrant workers both in relation to their migration status (reducing or increasing unauthorised migration) and employment status (reducing or increasing irregular work). The aim of the Call is to disentangle the mechanisms that trigger / lead to irregularity of migrant workers, focusing on the interplay between supranational, national and sectoral regulation.

Papers could focus in particular (but not exclusively) on the following aspects:
• State interventions to prevent/ reduce unauthorised migration and their effects on irregularity of migrant workers.
• State interventions in labour market regulation and the role of labour unions, the labour inspectorate, intermediaries, and their effect on irregularity of migrant workers.
• Supranational processes/regulatory framework affecting the size and kind of unauthorised migration and the size and kind of informalized economy.
• Role of general social policies/ regulations (fighting exploitation/equality policies/minimum wage) and of specific social actors (supporting unauthorised migrants) on irregularity of migrant workers.
• Possible differences within and among states in regularizing sectors dominated by male versus female work (where the obvious example would be care work)
• The role of national economies (in particular, the weight of informalization within them) in regularizing labor migration.

We welcome papers investigating these aspects/questions in different empirical contexts and drawing on a variety of methods and theoretical approaches. Please send abstracts of max. 250 words to the Sc IILME (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by 28/11/2022.

For all other submissions for the SC IILME, please follow the instructions below:

Individual Paper Proposals
Paper proposals should include a 250-word abstract and the name, affiliation and contact details of the author(s). Individual papers will be thematically clustered into panels. We strongly encourage authors to highlight the conceptual and methodological novelty of their contribution.

Panel Proposals
Panel proposals should include a 250-word abstract of the theme of the panel, together with min 3/max 5 thematically consistent and related 250-word paper abstracts. Submissions should also include the name, affiliation and contact details of the chair(s), discussant(s) and author(s) of each paper.

Workshop Proposals
Proposals can also be submitted for workshops. This can be, for example, book workshops, policy workshops or round tables focusing on specific topics, with the aim of discussing research or outlining future research agendas. Submissions for workshops should include a maximum of 400-word abstract as well as the names, affiliations and contact details of the organizer(s) and workshop participants (up to 10 participants, excluding the workshop chairs).

The deadline for submitting proposals is 5 December 2022 (23:59 CET). Please submit your proposals through the IMISCOE submission platform and link them to the SC “Immigration, Immigrants and Labour Markets in Europe”.

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