Migrant labour: Contested integration, prospects for citizenship

Sustainable economies across Europe are largely possible through the use of migrant labour that responds to demographic and labour market shortages by filling in positions that are unattractive to domestic workers and which are characterized by poor working conditions, low pay and limited human rights. Migrants’ lives are strongly conditioned by a skills and status based migration and integration management system which issues various permits to migrant populations. In these post-fordist times of welfare cuts, migrant workers are the first to lose jobs and permits that relate to employment contracts. This makes them vulnerable to precarious conditions within informal labour markets and puts them at risk of illegality. The conference aims to explore how various mechanisms of “nationalizing citizenship” are reproduced within migration and integration policies and what is their influence on migrants’ lives.

Project leader: Mojca pajnik
Project coworkers: Floya Anthias, Mojca Frelih, Jasna Babić and Sabina Turk

Replaced now by a problematic assimilationism, “integration” was seen as providing a way forward by stimulating debates and policies aimed at the equalization of migrants. Increasingly, however, integration has become a contested concept lacking the power to truly attend to the transnational practices of migrants which cut across the borders of nation states. Unable to provide the basis for a truly dialogical communication, integration has increasingly become a concept that underpins various processes of nationalization, such as those protecting national labour markets from migrants. Rather than viewing labour migration as a purely economic process of labour reallocation, the conference grasps migration in its complexity, i.e. as a human process that affects migrants and their families. Furthermore, the conference aims at addressing an expanded notion of citizenship which can inform a more coherent and sustainable approach to understanding the various forms of civic engagement that relate to migrants.

The conference provides an international and cross-disciplinary space to explore these questions. Particular focuses address the following: theoretical and/or empirical considerations of migrants’ integration in Europe; citizenship and migration; precarious migrant labour in a cross-country comparative perspective; gender and migrant labour; migrants transnationalism; intersectionalities in migration; migrants’ strategies of coping with nationally embedded protectionism.

Conference organisers:
Assist. Prof. Mojca Pajnik Peace Institute, Ljubljana and
Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana

Prof. Floya Anthias
City University, London


City University (London)


  • East East: Partnership Beyond Borders Program (Open Society Foundations)
  • Slovenian Research Agency