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2016 | 158/1 | 299-322

Article title

Migrant workers’ routes to the informal economy during the economic crisis: structural constraints and subjective motivations


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Drawing on a longitudinal research we conducted over five years (2010–2015) with 40 documented migrant workers who lost their job at the beginning of the recession, this article analyses their routes to the informal economy in Northern Italy. Moving away from the expulsion and exit dichotomous theories on participation in underground work, we argue that it is necessary to take into consideration both the structural constraints pushing migrants to enter the informal economy and their subjective motivations, both economic and non-economic. Through two waves of in-depth interviews with Moroccan and Romanian workers, we investigate the migrants’ working paths in order to understand different conditions and motivations driving them to work off the books. First, we highlight that migrants who work irregularly are not only the unemployed, but also poor casual workers and deprived self-employed. Moreover, we sustain that working irregularly is not only a poverty escape strategy to deal with the casualization, worsening and reduction of formal working opportunities, but it is also a way to meet identity and social needs.
Opierając się na badaniach panelowych, prowadzonych w latach 2010–2015 z 40 przebywającymi legalnie we Włoszech migrantami, którzy utracili pracę na początku recesji, artykuł analizuje ścieżki, które doprowadziły ich do gospodarki nieformalnej. Odchodząc od dychotomicznych teorii wykluczenia i rozstania dotyczących podejmowania pracy nierejestrowanej, dowodzimy, że konieczne jest wzięcie pod uwagę zarówno ograniczeń strukturalnych wpychających migrantów w stronę gospodarki nieformalnej, jak i ich subiektywnych motywacji o charakterze ekonomicznym oraz pozaekonomicznym. Analizując dwa zbiory wywiadów pogłębionych z pracownikami marokańskimi i rumuńskimi, badamy ścieżki pracy migrantów, aby zrozumieć różne warunki i motywacje podejmowania pracy w szarej strefie. Po pierwsze, podkreślamy, że imigranci, którzy pracują w tej strefie, to nie tylko bezrobotni, ale również pracownicy sezonowi i ubodzy samozatrudnieni. Ponadto, utrzymujemy, że praca nierejestrowana to nie tylko strategia ucieczki od ubóstwa wynikająca z uelastycznienia, pogorszenia i zmniejszenia możliwości pracy rejestrowanej, ale także sposób na zaspokojenie potrzeb tożsamościowych i społecznych.


  • Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Education and Applied Psychology, University of Padua, Via M. Cesarotti 10/12, 35123 Padova, Italy
  • Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Education and Applied Psychology, University of Padua, Via M. Cesarotti 10/12, 35123 Padova, Italy


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