Metamorphosis of labour, migration, resistances

1st National  Phd Conference in Social Sciences  

Padova 23rd – 25th June 2016

The profound changes occurred in the modes of production and their geography over the last few decades, together with the processes of financialization and transformation of the economies in transnational systems, have strongly impacted the different labour regimes, accelerating their multiplication and mutual interconnection and enforcing the mobility of goods, capitals and people.

At the same time, the process of commodification of the living labour and of social cooperation- visible in the growing porosity of the boundaries between time and space of work and time and space of life – has brought some authors to speak about a process of “feminization of work”, understood as the generalization of the model of domestic (unpaid) work (Morini, 2010). The proliferation of precarious jobs (self-employment, atypical job, forms of individual collaborations), and of corporate organizational models that focus on the relational aspects and on the involvement of subjectivities in production, are in this sense exemplary.

The current global economic crisis comes out in this context, bringing in Italy and in Europe an important restructuring of labour markets, spending reviews, as well as of institutional and political orders. In general, the crisis accelerated the process of dismantling of welfare systems and flexibilization of labour, spreading at the same time the process of commodification to even more areas of life.

The effects of the crisis, as the increase of unemployment and job precarity (and thus of income and existential precarity), the resumption of emigration and the increase of the recourse to unemployment benefits, go together with the worsening of working and life conditions, the exacerbation of inequalities and the growing poverty, especially in the countries of southern Europe. In other words, the implementation of austerity policies transferred the economic and social costs of the crises on the backs of workers, draining wealth from the bottom up.

From this point of view, the strategy developed during the years of the economic crisis seems to be based on the generalization of the pattern of organization and management typical of migrant labour (Gambino 2015), characterized by the casualization and informalisation of labour relations, the weakening of trade unions and the erosion of rights and social protections.

Nevertheless, the economic crisis has had an impact also on migrant labour. Indeed, while the latter has paid the highest price in terms of layoffs and downward pressure on working conditions, at the same time the crisis has accelerated, especially for low-skilled and low wages jobs, the process of substitution of local with migrant workers.

The occupational segregation and, more in general, the segmentation of the labour market, are supported by processes of categorization based on the intersection of social categories such as gender, age and race, and sustained by the action of borders that operate as functional devices for differential inclusion (Mezzadra e Neilson, 2013). However, empirical studies have highlighted how, in response to the continuing process of subordination and discipline, migrant and local workers put in place strategies of agency and practices of resistance to contain the downward pressure on working conditions. Previous experiences of migration and political organization, knowledge of the different institutional systems, strong predisposition to geographical and occupational mobility, all those skills allow these workers not to act as mere victims of abuse by employers. On the contrary, in response to the crisis of the traditional patterns of labour representation and to the weakening of trade unions, they experience new forms of organization from below, also putting in place functional alliances with other segments of civil society and political movements.


This session wants to host contributions from PhD students/candidates who have studied from a theoretical and empirical point of view transformations of work and of the employment structure, the relationship between segmentation of the labour market and migrations, the (old and new) forms of labour representation and the growing informalisation of labour relations. Papers of other scientific fields and based on interdisciplinary approaches are welcome.

In order to give a coherent structure to the session, we propose the following issues:

  • changes in labour: theoretical and practical implications;
  • segmentation and multiplication of labour regimes;
  • intersectionality and the management of differences;
  • labour mobility, racialization and ghettoization employment;
  • conflicts, resistance and agency at work;
  • trade unions, new forms of organization and representation of labour;
  • working in the crisis: unemployment, working poor and new migrants;
  • youth and new professions: rhetoric or opportunity?
  • the commodification of labour between job insecurity and unpaid work;
  • from occupation to employability. A new work ethic?
  • outsourcing process: labour relationsandworking conditions;
  • knowledge workers.

This list is to regarded as indicative and not exhaustive, therefore we welcome abstract proposals on other themes that can stimulate and enrich the debate.


Abstracts should be up to 300 words (bibliography not included), and be written either in Italian or in English and must be sent by February 20, 2016 via email to: adding the title of the session in the subject of the email: Metamorphosis of labour, migration, resistances”.

Abstracts must have the following structure:

title, author(s)*, text, keywords.

* author’s contact details and a short biography (up to 100 words).

The result of the evaluation will be notified to authors by 20 March 2016. Please note that to participate to the conference you need to sign up (free) which will be available on the appropriate form on the website from March 20, 2015 until 30 April, 2015. For organizational reasons we invite applicants to register by the deadline[1].

Authors of selected abstracts have to send a paper up to 35,000 characters (including spaces and bibliography) by 31 May 2016 to the same e-mail address.

At the end, contribution may be collected for scientific publications cured by the referee of the session together with the author(s).


Carlotta Benvegnù, PhD Student in Social Sciences, FISPPA Department – University of Padova

Franesco Iannuzzi, PhD Student in Social Sciences, FISPPA Department – University of Padova


[1]Coffee breaks and spritz-time are included.

Comments are closed.