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Migration, Welfare and the Political Economy of Labour Market Segmentation

This research stream includes studies on migration, changing work organisation and ethnic segmentation in private and public sectors of the economy. It raises new perspectives on the informalisation of labour, on recruitment and employment strategies and on institutional discrimination. Research within the stream develops understandings of social capital, the local and transnational networks and the career strategies of migrants and ethnic minorities in cities marked by residential segregation, complex ethnic divisions of labour and new occupational niches. It relates the political economy of international migration and changing ethnic relations to the study of changing welfare regimes and labour market regulation and to the incremental influence of supra-national frameworks of governance.

Stream leaders: Associate Professor Zoran Slavnic and Associate Professor Susanne Urban

Conflicting identities and fractured solidarities

Anders Neergaard, Professor

As one of the largest organizational complexes in Sweden, trade unions both reflect and influence societal development, affecting policies, regulating labor markets and influencing wage-earner identities...
As one of the largest organizational complexes in Sweden, trade unions both reflect and influence societal development, affecting policies, regulating labor markets and influencing wage-earner identities and solidarities. The last decades have seen substantial changes in the trade union landscape, with the increasing strength of white-collar trade unions vis-à-vis blue-collar unions, changes in the character of the labor market, while the strength of Sweden’s social democracy has been decreasing.
The aim of this study is to explore white masculinities in the forging of the trade union worldviews, policies and strategies relating to three spheres– socio-political, industrial relations and internal organization. The focus is on three trade unions dominated by men with a Swedish background variously affected by globalization: engineers, managers and construction workers.
The project is inspired by three central theoretical concepts: neoliberal globalization, white masculinity and trade union solidarity. Methodologically, it encompasses ethnography: interviews, focus groups, observations and document analysis.

Social Stratification & Meritocracy

Olav Nygård, PhD Student

Stratification theory commonly puts education as the link between class of origin and class of destination. This system, where class is inherited through education and education inherited through class...
Stratification theory commonly puts education as the link between class of origin and class of destination. This system, where class is inherited through education and education inherited through class is often referred to as meritocracy. The concept of meritocracy - a society dominated by those with the most merits - has gained widespread support. Still, authoritarian and populist resurgences throughout the West indicate that ascriptive factors very much remain of import. So what is happening to meritocracy? In this doctoral project I address this question by studying the Swedish educational system and the phenomenon known as immigrant optimism.

Immigrant optimism refers to the fact that immigrants and children of immigrants tend to be more academically driven than expected given their socioeconomic backgrounds. This would result in advantage in the labor market, were it not for racialization and discrimination. As a result, immigrant optimism is at the intersection of the competing principles of attainment and ascription, making it an ideal subject for a project concerned with meritocracy.

Immigrants’ legal status and integration in Sweden

Zoran Slavnic, Associate Professor (biträdande professor)

Research on the relationship between immigrants’ entry categories and legal status after obtaining the residence permits and their socioeconomic integration, is fragmented and underdeveloped, both in...
Research on the relationship between immigrants’ entry categories and legal status after obtaining the residence permits and their socioeconomic integration, is fragmented and underdeveloped, both in Sweden and internationally.
The aim of this project is to fill this gap. We intend to examine how differences between immigrants’ entry categories and legal status affect immigrants’ short-term and long-term integration in the Swedish context. As far as integration indicators are concerned, the focus will be on labour market, education and housing outcomes, as well as on the family dynamics among immigrants. We intend to compare different legal categories as they are defined by the immigration board while entering the country (refugees, quote refugees, permits based on humanitarian grounds, family reunion, temporary protection, working permits etc.). Different immigrant groups as well as groups with the different legal status within the same immigrant groups, will also be compared. We will also study legal status differences emerging from the shift to the new Swedish restrictive immigration regime, which was introduced in 2016.

Civil Societies Organisations and Educational Achievements

Anders Neergaard, Professor

Young people from lower socio-economic strata living in marginalized urban areas have substantially more difficulties in school. This project aims to study if and how participation in civil society organizations...
Young people from lower socio-economic strata living in marginalized urban areas have substantially more difficulties in school. This project aims to study if and how participation in civil society organizations may improve this situation. The research questions of the project are: 1) Young people in marginalised urban areas are active in which kinds of civil society organisations? 2) Through which processes does membership in civil society associations affect educational achievements of young people in school? 3) How does the impact of membership vary in terms of the educational outcomes of young people, taking account of issues such as gender, class and ethnic background? 4) To what extent does participation in civil society organisations restrict the freedom and mobility of young people and do such restrictions differ based on gender, class and ethnic background?
The answers will help us to grasp the significance of civil society organizations for young people?s educational achievements, and in continuation their labour market entry, and used in general educational policies, and to improve the situation for young people living in marginalized urban areas.

Equal Work-Places in a World of Inequality

Anders Neergaard, Professor

Studies of Swedish working life shows inequality: women and migrants earn often less in the same jobs. Women and migrants face more obstacles in their careers. The project aims to compare the factors...
Studies of Swedish working life shows inequality: women and migrants earn often less in the same jobs. Women and migrants face more obstacles in their careers. The project aims to compare the factors that influence the situation of different groups at two workplaces, one equal, and the second less equal. Methods used are questionnaires, interviews, participant observation in the workplace, and discourse analysis: 1) How are formal qualifications valued for wage setting and promotion at the workplaces? 2) What knowledge is valued as workplace-specific skills at each workplace? 3) What is the effect of possession of social capital, ie network, on wage and career development at the workplaces? 4) Are there differences in opportunities for people of the different groups? 5) Can the measurement of knowledge explained in terms of local discourses and social practices related to the construction of masculinity and femininity, Swedish or non-Swedish? The project contribution is expected to produce extended knowledge of the conditions for capital accumulation, and a broader understanding of how social practices at workplaces may generate equality.

Finished projects

The REMESO Database

Simone Scarpa, Postdoctoral fellow & Carl-Ulrik Schierup, Professor

The REMESO database is a register-based database that contains information about all individuals, schools, dwellings and companies in Sweden.
The REMESO database is based on Statistics Sweden's annual...
The REMESO database is a register-based database that contains information about all individuals, schools, dwellings and companies in Sweden.
The REMESO database is based on Statistics Sweden's annual registerdata and consists of five parts:
(1) A population register containing information about all individuals who were registered in Sweden as of 31 December for each year;
(2) Longitudinal Integration Database for Health Insurance and Labor Market Studies (LISA);
(3) A business register with information about all economically active companies and organizations in Sweden , whether they belong to the private or public sector;
(4) A school register with information about all elementary schools and upper secondary schools, including student grades;
(5) A real estate register containing microdata administrative and longitudinal information on all properties, buildings, addresses and apartments in Sweden.

Revisioning the regulation of data archiving

Zoran Slavnic, Associate Professor (biträdande professor)

The regulation of data sharing is now a key European and international policy concern as evidenced in the recent proliferation of policy documents. The case for such regulation is made on the grounds that...
The regulation of data sharing is now a key European and international policy concern as evidenced in the recent proliferation of policy documents. The case for such regulation is made on the grounds that it is consistent with the ethic and practice of open scientific inquiry and is a costefficient use of public funds because it allows reanalysis of existing datasets. The international social science community, however, and particularly its qualitative researchers, have raised concerns that regulating, institutionalizing and standardizing data sharing
practices privilege a specific philosophical, methodological and ethical understanding and practice of social science while marginalizing alternative approaches. The purpose of this symposium is to discuss the regulation of data archiving and sharing in the social sciences and its possible future directions.

From Workers Self-Management to Global Workforce Management

Branka Likic-Brboric, Associate Professor (biträdande professor) & Zoran Slavnic, Associate Professor (biträdande professor)

The project aims to explore the impact of foreign direct investments (FDI) on employment and human resource management practices, new organizational ethnic hierarchies, industrial relations and local communities...
The project aims to explore the impact of foreign direct investments (FDI) on employment and human resource management practices, new organizational ethnic hierarchies, industrial relations and local communities in different national contexts. The focus is on acquisitions by multinational companies (MNCs) from emerging economies in the post-communist region of former Yugoslavia. The research is situated at the forefront of the research on globalization, migration, global workforce management and the local and transnational challenges to corporate power. An extended case study investigates the acquisition of the Bosnian Steel company by Indian Mittal Steel and its impact on industrial relations, labour standards and management practices, including Indian management relationships with the state, local management, trade unions and local community. The project is developed in collaboration with the Management School, Sheffield University. It also engages Professor Jacklyn Cock, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, planning a joint comparative study of ArcelorMittal in South Africa and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Informalisation, labour migrants and irregular migrants

Anders Neergaard, Professor

Studies of migrant labour in the Swedish labour market have generally focused on those having received permanent residence permission as refugees or through family re-unification legislation. This mirrors...
Studies of migrant labour in the Swedish labour market have generally focused on those having received permanent residence permission as refugees or through family re-unification legislation. This mirrors a situation in which labour migration has been quite restrictive in Sweden. Starting with a new labour migration reform in 2008, this is dramatically changing.

The aim is to study the situation of labour migrants and irregular migrants in the labour market and their understanding of collective action, as (migrant) workers. In addition the project aims at studying the employers, especially the reason for employing these two categories of migrant workers.

Strategies and Structures

Martin Klinthäll, Associate professor

The project analyses how changes in policies and regulations affect conditions and opportunities for small business development in different industries over time, and how self-employed persons act in response...
The project analyses how changes in policies and regulations affect conditions and opportunities for small business development in different industries over time, and how self-employed persons act in response to changes in opportunity structures. We study strategies of growth and survival within specific industries and markets, but also transitions of self-employment across industries and types of markets. The project will contribute new knowledge through a systematic and coherent longitudinal and spatial investigation of the dynamics of self-employment among immigrants in Sweden. The project systematically applies and develops instruments from recent international research on ethnic minority businesses (EMB). Theory in the field is developed through the integration of entrepreneurship theory and new theoretical contributions from EMB research. Theoretical perspectives on strategies and self-employed as actors is combined with theory on opportunity structures (the framework of ?mixed embeddedness?). Methodologically, the approach implies coordinated analyses of different dimensions on different levels, using a combination of policy studies, case studies and quantitative analyses.

Managing transnational work in Sweden

Karin Krifors, Postdoc & Anders Neergaard, Professor

This project aims at investigating shifting migration regimes and how employment and labor differentiates categories of migrants in Sweden. Relations between employers and migrants become increasingly...
This project aims at investigating shifting migration regimes and how employment and labor differentiates categories of migrants in Sweden. Relations between employers and migrants become increasingly crucial for opportunities and restraints in migrant life situations in systems of managed migration. Employers also become engaged in global economic relations and at the same time negotiate the relations between the nation and the migrant workers.

Informal economy

Zoran Slavnic, Associate Professor (biträdande professor)

The aim of this project is to critically review the actual concepts on informal economy, and its relation to structural changes of the labour market, and migration. The project also has an ambition to...
The aim of this project is to critically review the actual concepts on informal economy, and its relation to structural changes of the labour market, and migration. The project also has an ambition to highlight the borderline between formal and informal economy, and to develop a theoretical framework, suitable for empirical research on informal economy in its relation to the re-commodification of labour and migration.

Swedish retirement migrants to Spain and migrant workers

Anna Gavanas, Docent

In Swedish public discourse, retirees born in the 1940s are considered a growing cohort of relatively wealthy consumers, with more cosmopolitan preferences and habits, and different demands compared to...
In Swedish public discourse, retirees born in the 1940s are considered a growing cohort of relatively wealthy consumers, with more cosmopolitan preferences and habits, and different demands compared to previous generations. Swedish retirees are part of a growing stream of Northern Europeans who migrate to Southern Europe to retire in the sun.
Exploring the relations between streams of migrants who meet in Spain, and their intermediaries, this project explores issues of mobility and the globalization of care/service, of crucial importance to welfare states and the future of work, elderly care and retirement conditions in Ageing Europe.

Migration, Citizenship, and the Welfare State

Carl-Ulrik Schierup, Professor

The project surveys, in international comparative perspective, changing welfare states and the transformation of their multiethnic societies through two complementary analytical lenses: on the one hand,...
The project surveys, in international comparative perspective, changing welfare states and the transformation of their multiethnic societies through two complementary analytical lenses: on the one hand, the welfare state's capacity for accommodating migration and ethnic diversity through policies of border control and the allocation of rights of citizenship and, on the other hand, migration and ethnic diversity as a dynamic factor for change in the economic, political and cultural foundations of welfare states. It focuses on changing ethnic divisions of labour related to processes of social inclusion/exclusion and politics of European integration.

Social capital and the educational achievement of young people

Alireza Behtoui, Professor

Studies of educational stratification show that children from advantaged backgrounds (more economic and cultural capital) attain higher educational merits than others. Recent research in educational stratification...
Studies of educational stratification show that children from advantaged backgrounds (more economic and cultural capital) attain higher educational merits than others. Recent research in educational stratification incorporates social capital as an additional factor with a significant impact on school achievement. The aim of this project is to examine, in a Swedish context, how access to social capital affects the educational performance of young people from different backgrounds (class, gender, and ethnicity), through the following research questions: Which characteristics of young people affect their access to social capital? Does social capital offset limited access to economic and cultural capital and contribute to better educational outcomes for young people of lower socioeconomic and/or immigrant origin? By what mechanisms does social capital improve individuals educational achievements?

East-West labour migration - Sweden and Baltics

Charles Woolfson, Professor Emeritus

The right for European Union (EU) citizens to move freely across national borders within the EU is considered one of the EUs fundamental four freedoms and is itself a form of response to the need for regional...
The right for European Union (EU) citizens to move freely across national borders within the EU is considered one of the EUs fundamental four freedoms and is itself a form of response to the need for regional competitiveness in the global economy. However, a possible downside of free movement is a purported downward gravitational effect on established labour standards in terms of wage levels, employment relationships and working environment conditions created by the growing availability of migrant labour originating from lower wage domains with inferior conditions and, at the same time, subject to exploitation in the labour process as vulnerable transnational workers. This project seeks an integrated theoretical and empirical approach in exploring the impact of East-West migration on the patterns of industrial relations, working environment, and welfare regimes from the point of view of both the sending and receiving countries within a regional migration complex, namely Sweden and the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Competence and Contacts

Martin Klinthäll, Associate professor

Studies of neighbourhood effects, school effects, ethnic networks, and other kinds of social contacts have shown that social environments and networks influence establishment and career in the labour market...
Studies of neighbourhood effects, school effects, ethnic networks, and other kinds of social contacts have shown that social environments and networks influence establishment and career in the labour market in different ways and, hence, may explain why newly arrived immigrants frequently face difficulty in becoming established in the labour market. The purpose of this project is to study the comparative importance of different kinds of social relations. Several types of social contexts are studied and put in contrast to each other; neighbourhoods, schools, workplaces, national and transnational ethnic networks, as well as formal competence and the situation in the labour market. Hence, the project takes into account both the characteristics of the individual and the opportunities and constraints of the context.

Recruitment of IT-professionals from India in the ICT-sector

Kirsten Hviid, Postdoctoral Fellow

This research project addresses migration management, recruitment strategies and employment of international IT-professionals from India in the ICT-industry in Sweden and Denmark. IT-professionals have...
This research project addresses migration management, recruitment strategies and employment of international IT-professionals from India in the ICT-industry in Sweden and Denmark. IT-professionals have mainly been recruited from EU-countries through the network of EURES, but recently both Scandinavian countries have introduced recruitment measures to attract and facilitate migration of highly skilled employees, such as IT-professionals, from outside the EU. The Swedish migration management, introduced in 2008, is strictly demand driven whereas the Danish system, introduced in 2002, is both demand- and supply driven. By comparing the Swedish liberal migration management system and simple recruitment measures used by the Swedish employers with the ?tough? Danish migration management system and relatively complicated recruitment measures required for Danish employers, differences and similarities between the two systems can generate a better understanding of how the processes of migration management systems and recruitment strategies interact in the two labor markets.
This project employs a multidisciplinary theoretical approach with a broad perspective on globalization, organizational management and the micro social processes involved in the recruitment practices and selection. The methodology applied is based on mixed methods such as quantitative data from national statistics and qualitative interviews with HR managers and leader from four companies in Sweden and Denmark.

Reorganization of the Public Sector

Lena Högberg, Research Fellow & Elisabeth Sundin, Professor

This project aims at describing and analysing the reorganization of the Swedish public sector from ethnic, gender and age perspectives. The Swedish public sector is in a process of transformation. The...
This project aims at describing and analysing the reorganization of the Swedish public sector from ethnic, gender and age perspectives. The Swedish public sector is in a process of transformation. The current changes are often in line with the international New Public Management trend. As the welfare services in Sweden are an obligation to the 290 municipalities, empirical studies have to be conducted on the local level. Improved democracy in terms of freedom of choice to the citizens, increased diversity in services available, lower costs for the local community, and development of new markets are often the aspired goals from the promoters of the changes. These new markets are expected to encourage local entrepreneurs and especially former employees. As women are overrepresented among the employees, the new strategies are expected to be very positive for women and, due to an assumed demand from the clients, for 'ethnic specialists'. This means that the reorganization might entail new possibilities for entrepreneurs with a business profile different from 'the mainstream entrepreneur' but to this point we find a domination of large organizations rather than small.

Transition from School to Work and the Impact of Social Capital

Alireza Behtoui, Professor

Young people with the same educational qualifications do not reach the same place in the social hierarchy, because educational credentials are never separable from the individuals that hold them. The economic...
Young people with the same educational qualifications do not reach the same place in the social hierarchy, because educational credentials are never separable from the individuals that hold them. The economic and social return of educational credentials (in terms of salary and the status of the job) depends mainly on the social capital of their holders. How much social capital an individual has access to, depends, among other things, on her socio-economic background, gender and ethnicity.

The aim of this project is to examine: 1) what is the impact of social capital (compared with socio-economic background and education) on labour market outcomes of young people in obtaining their first jobs, and 2), is there any differences between young natives and children of immigrants in regard to their access to and return from social capital when they get their first employment?

In order to achieve the aim of the project, we will examine the labour market outcomes (salary and the work's status) of young people with the same education, three years after completed studies from universities and secondary schools.

The method design of the project combines quantitative and qualitative method (questionnaire - and interview studies).

Social Networks in Informal Recruitment Practices

Anders Neergaard, Professor & Aleksandra Ålund, Professor Emerita

In Sweden, 60-85% of all jobs are appointed through informal recruitment. The research has to a lesser extent focused on differences in the outcomes of different social networks with regard to ethnicity,...
In Sweden, 60-85% of all jobs are appointed through informal recruitment. The research has to a lesser extent focused on differences in the outcomes of different social networks with regard to ethnicity, gender and class. Questions about how information and recommendations are communicated within the social networks have rarely been studied. The project focuses on the relationship between the applicants and the information mediators perceived scope of action in strategies of network recruitment. What considerations are made when seeking job, and when recommending through social networks? What careers develop through recruiting via social networks and how these are affected by individuals' social background?
The study is theoretically grounded in research emphasizing networks and social capital in recruitment, with an interactionist perspective. Three sub-studies analyze links between qualifications and work: The sample is composed of both low-and high-skilled people in jobs with both low and high qualifications as well as Swedish and foreign-born men and women. Semi-structured interviews and so-called network map are the main methods.

Social Inclusion, Qualified Jobs and the ICT Labor Market

Jonathan Feldman, Guest Lecturer

The project investigates the conditions under which persons with different kinds of immigrant backgrounds get qualified jobs. I examine one firm in the ICT sector in Kista Science City. I show how different...
The project investigates the conditions under which persons with different kinds of immigrant backgrounds get qualified jobs. I examine one firm in the ICT sector in Kista Science City. I show how different kinds of persons get different kinds of jobs. The assignment of jobs relates to the background of the employee, the opportunity structures and various structural relations related to gender, class and ethnicity. I show how persons with immigrant backgrounds can get good jobs and compare women and men and persons without immigrant backgrounds to those with different kinds of immigrant background.

Social Networks and Institutional Discrimination

Anders Neergaard, Professor & Carl-Ulrik Schierup, Professor

The project aimed to explore the role of various recruitment practices and unequal access to social networks has for the employment of people with foreign and Swedish background respectively. The study...
The project aimed to explore the role of various recruitment practices and unequal access to social networks has for the employment of people with foreign and Swedish background respectively. The study was based in two general perspectives on how inequality is created and recreated: theories on social capital and institutional selection / sorting. The project has studied the recruitment practices and career with an empirical focus on HR staff and, the people who have sought and obtained work. Methodologically, the project used both quantitative and qualitative analysis of questionnaires and interviews. The analysis focused on two issues: differences between persons with foreign and Swedish background in the access of so-called social capital and the importance of this social capital on individuals opportunity for employment; institutional mechanisms of selection. What are the effects of employers choice of recruitment channels (formal and informal) for employment? How are applicants ranked and sorted?

Career Choices for Young People with Immigrant Background

Catarina Lundqvist, PhD & Aleksandra Ålund, Professor Emerita

This project focuses on career-choices of youth with immigrant background. It explores questions of exclusion and inclusion, the importance of of social and cultural capital for school performance. It...
This project focuses on career-choices of youth with immigrant background. It explores questions of exclusion and inclusion, the importance of of social and cultural capital for school performance. It records reflections on career-paths in a Swedish and transnational perspective. The main result of the project is a PhD thesis on Ethnic Studies focusing on young persons' career-choices, their strategies and orientations and their reflections on these choices. The central research question of the thesis is how young persons with foreign background make their choices relating to education or work. Which are the ambitions, conceptions and visions of these young people? On the background of which influences, conditions, limitations and opportunities do they make their choices? The study reflects on youth's own understandings of their choices, agency and motives. Methods employed are individual and focus group interviews with youth in secondary school combined with participant observation in secondary schools in Stockholm. Teachers and other staff are also interviewed.




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Last updated: 2017-03-24