Conference theme

The 2022 Conference focusses on labour mobility and the mobilization of workers, aiming to develop its theoretical understanding, the implications of migration in the labour process and its connections with work and migration policies. The theme of labour mobility encompasses a variety of related topics, from migrants’ experiences of the labour market to wider issues of occupational mobility in the labour processes. The movement of workers in and out of jobs and occupations is especially important given the growth of precarious employment and the gig economy where insecure workers fear remaining forever stuck in the same spiral of mini jobs or social instability.

The Coronavirus pandemic has had tremendous implications on both of these understandings of labour mobility. On the one side, the tensions around labour migration have been exacerbated by the health crisis and the subsequent border closure, showing how the mobility of labour is crucial for many actors - workers, employers, states, unions but also temporary agencies and brokers – involved in the labour processes. On the other side, the (post?)-coronavirus time risks to worsen the segmentation of labour market along the lines of gender, race, nationality, age, education, social class and visa status.

This bulk of reflections mingles with the great amount of attention towards how social reproduction activities are interlinked with labour processes and in particular with the mobility of labour. While occupational mobility in the labour market is indeed strongly influenced by domestic and caring work in the household, international labour migrations sustain the social reproduction activities occurring in the country of origin and destination of migrant workers and their families.

Another key aim of the Conference is to understand how labour mobility shapes work and employment relations, affecting both dynamics of control and resistance in the labour process and individual and collective actions. Although labour turnover and subjective mobility practices have been, for long time, conceived as opposed to collective strategies to organize labour, the experiences of workers’ mobilizations show how boundaries between the two are actually much more blurred.

Therefore, the Conference will address the role of labour mobility in the international labour process, by developing a debate on several aspects: at a critical time of change for the world economy following the pandemic, how do labour migrations and the mobility of workers across borders, sectors and occupations shape and are shaped by changing labour processes? How do technological and social changes in work controls and production processes interact with the mobility of workers across jobs and borders? How do the mobilizations of workers challenge the dichotomy between individual and collective forms of actions?

Last modified: Wednesday, 13 April 2022, 6:19 PM