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Teresa Cappiali (Collegio Carlo Alberto)

14 April 2016 @ 14:00


  • Past event


14 April 2016
Event Category:

“Challenges and Opportunities for Immigrant Workers Organizing in the Globalized Economy: Case Studies from Italy and Spain”


This talk focuses on key theoretical issues to examine the challenges and opportunities of migrant workers organizing in the globalized economy from a national comparative perspective. It builds on Adler et al.’s (2014) work on mobilizations by migrant workers and their supporters in the UK, Germany, France and the US. These authors examine barriers to participation faced by immigrant workers (both documented and undocumented) and show how these barriers may be overcome by looking at key national campaigns in these four countries. They explain that campaigns for status regularization and better working conditions are likely to succeed when alliances and coalitions with migrant mobilized, trade unions and civil society organizations are made. Drawing on Adler et al.’s (2014) work, this talk focuses on migrant workers’ mobilizations in two Southern European countries—Italy and Spain. With the help of second- and first-hand data, including archival research and interviews with migrant and ‘native’ activists, I map mobilizations for mass regularizations (or the right to stay) and the improvement of working conditions (or working rights) that took place during the financial crisis between 2008 and 2014. Particular attention is given to those campaigns that adopted expansive frameworks and tied the two dimensions described above—the right to stay and working rights—with other key issues, including struggles for housing and fights against discrimination. By looking into several case studies, the paper seeks to answer three key research questions: What were the conditions for migrant workers’ organizing? Which actors were involved and what coalitions were made? Which mobilization frameworks were the most successful? Italy and Spain are relevant cases to study how economic and institutional factors interact, and how mobilized immigrants and their allies frame claims for greater recognition in a situation where the outcomes are particularly uncertain. Additionally, these two cases allow us to draw interesting parallels and differences with other Western countries such as those studied by Adler et al. (2014).