Labour market dynamics and migrants as “good citizens” in Finland

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
TW2.2.04 (Tower Two)
Laura Mankki, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
Markku Sippola, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
Immigration in Finland is being administered and controlled in many ways. At the moment, the labour market and its institutions provide one of the most visible political arenas, in which the position of the migrant is being negotiated, governed and defined. This phenomenon concerns with Europe as a whole as well as global economy, where people, services and goods move across borders. Besides legal status, also gender, nationality and ethnicity have an impact on a person’s position in the society and labour market. In this paper, we present preliminary results of two research projects. We take examples from construction and service sectors on how labour market actors react to the influx of migrant labour and how migrants themselves experience the situation in the Finnish labour market. Compared with other sectors, the construction and service sectors employ proportionally many migrants. We propose that overall trends that prevail in the labour market can be grasped by examining the migrant worker and his/her position. We look into how and why the migrant ends up complying with working in low-paid occupations such as cleaning. As an analytical framework, we use the concept of “good citizen” coined by Bridget Anderson. What is required of a migrant to become a good citizen? What is at stake in the discourse that defines immigrants as either exploiters of the system or a labour reserve? What does this mean from the perspective of the labour market, and what is the role of labour unions in this discussion?