The closing conference of Mobility at Work will take place from April 19th until April 20th 2018 at the Hof van Liere, Prinsstraat 13, at 2000 Antwerp.

A detailed programme and more information regarding registration will follow shortly.

Call for Papers

Call for papers International Conference 'Migration at Work: Opportunities, Imaginaries & Structures of Mobility'

Deadline for abstract submission: 15 December 2017

Keynote speakers: Prof. Russell King (University of Sussex) and Prof. Magdalena Nowicka (Humboldt University Berlin)

Conference chairs: Prof. Noel Salazar (KULeuven), Prof. Christiane Timmerman (University of Antwerp) and Prof. Johan Wets (KULeuven)

Contemporary migration research often revolves around one particular aspect of migratory processes, such as the movement of a particular group of people, the core motives to migrate, the expectations of migrants prior to, whilst or after migrating, or issues surrounding the integration in receiving societies. This international conference aims to stimulate an interdisciplinary discussion on a more encompassing perspective to labour migration by approaching the phenomenon from different points of view, with a special focus on internal as well as international labour mobility. Migration is one of the driving forces in labour mobility, but the willingness to migrate in search of employment is in itself not enough to compel anyone to move. Other processes related to the existence (or lack) of opportunities in both sending and receiving countries and regions, the imaginaries one has of life as a migrant, and the many different rules and regulations that hinder, facilitate or even stimulate (cross-border) movement are all of great importance in the decision-making process of (possible) migrants. However, the dynamics of labour mobility are not solely dependent on workers’ readiness to migrate. They are also heavily influenced by the opportunities perceived and the imaginaries held by both employers and regulating authorities in relation to migrant labour. It is thus of great importance to approach migration and labour mobility from a more encompassing and wider perspective.

We welcome contributions from scholars from all levels and with a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, focusing on one of the three following topics:

1. Employment opportunities and associated economic and social mobility of both internal and international labour migrants

Many migrants are looking for better employment opportunities, hoping that this will lead to a better quality of life for themselves and for their supporting (family) network. Additionally, employers may see opportunities in luring temporary, flexible labour forces to take up jobs the local population is reluctant to do, or with the expectation migrants would do the same work for lower wages. Governments and authorities may see the economic and competitive advantages of attracting high-skilled labourers with specific know-how and experience. In this context, it is important to reflect about the extent to which the agency of (potential) labour migrants, in the form of individual capabilities and aspirations, can be considered a determinant factor for their migration. Particularly researchers that look beyond traditional migration theories - such as push-pull, neoclassical and historical-structural models - and seek to illuminate the subtleties responsible for the final decision to migrate (or not) in search of employment, are encouraged to apply.

2. Imaginaries that shape labour migration

Contributions to this topic should focus on imaginaries of employment opportunities as well as of greater social and economic mobility that influence migration aspirations among workers at all levels everywhere. Whether one has the aspiration to migrate is largely dependent on information made available through personal stories (of success or disillusion) and the media. The clash between previously held (positive) imaginaries and the ‘real’ (negative) living conditions may lead to disillusion. Employers and authorities also act based on their own imaginaries of what migrants may bring to the job: for instance, migrants from certain (ethnic, religious, regional, etc.) backgrounds are expected to be hard working whereas others are perceived as fortune-seekers in some countries. Specific policies in companies or at the government level will inevitably reflect these perceptions and expectations.

3. Structures and ‘regimes of mobility’

A third process that determines migration and is emphasized in this conference are the regimes that regulate labour mobility. These regimes range from migration policies to the policing of borders and border-crossings on the ground. It also affects the rules and regulations surrounding flexible work and the acceptance and recognition of academic and professional credentials and experience. Contributions to this topic could look into how skilled workers sometimes end up in low-status jobs, leading to so-called brain waste instead of brain gain, and to what extent this still leads to any form of social and economic mobility. We also welcome papers that look at the structures shaped by these ‘regimes of mobility’ that bring together the existing (employment) opportunities and the aspirations of (possible) labour migrants. In this context, it is also essential to take into account the regimes that migrants create in or with their own network at the place of departure or arrival.

Abstract submission:

Title, author(s) and their affiliation, and abstracts (maximum 300 words) can be submitted here. The deadline for submission is 15 December 2017.