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Work in Transition

Work in Transition: Cultural Capital and Highly Skilled Migrants' Passages into the Labour Market

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 360
  • Book Info
    Work in Transition
    Book Description:

    Despite the fact that many countries target highly skilled migrants for recruitment in the global labour market, few of those migrants are able to take full advantage of their educational and professional qualifications in their new homes.Work in Transitionexamines this paradox, using extended narrative interviews that focus on the role that cultural capital plays in the labour market.

    Comparing the migrant experience in Germany, Canada, and Turkey,Work in Transitionshows how migrants develop their cultural capital in order to enter the workforce, as well as how failure to leverage that capital can lead to permanent exclusion from professional positions. Exposing the mechanisms that drive inclusion and exclusion for migrants from a transatlantic comparative perspective, this book provides a unique analytical approach to an increasingly important global issue.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6873-7
    Subjects: Political Science, Geography, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Rules of Transcription
    (pp. xiii-2)
  7. 1 Highly Skilled Migrants: A Puzzling Socioeconomic Reality and a Challenge to Migration Research
    (pp. 3-22)

    Highly skilled migrants have become an attractive target group for immigration policies under the imperative of international competitiveness. Yet the same migrants often live under poor social conditions and face severe obstacles in their pursuit of professional careers in their destination country. There is a blatant discrepancy between political agenda and social practice. On the one hand, attracting highly skilled migrants is seen by governments as a critical component of preparing modern economies for the challenges of a globalized economy, and the issue has become a prominent feature in current political and policy debates. Highly trained migrants are key elements...

  8. 2 The Relational Character of Cultural Capital in Migration
    (pp. 23-49)

    “So I came here in October 28, 2002. To Canada. And, obviously, when I came here, you have to start from somewhere. So I found (2 sec. pause) a job, a security job, just to take care of my kids. And then I decided to like, proceed on with my education, get my credentials recognized in Canada.”¹

    These are the words of one of our interviewees, Mr Mehra, age thirty-five, describing his migration to Canada from Pakistan.² For Mr Mehra, as for numerous others, the migration process included caring for a family, earning a living, and last but not least,...

  9. 3 Multidimensional Status Passages: Migration, Labour Market Inclusion, and Private Life Domains
    (pp. 50-66)

    As discussed in the previous chapter, in the course of migration, educational degrees are re-evaluated and their worth is assessed vis-à-vis the expectations in the receiving country. Discrepancies between the status finally achieved in the immigration process and a person’s own expectations – as demonstrated in the narrative of Mr Mehra – are already known in current debates on the immigration of a highly skilled workforce. Yet scholarly explorations of the barriers that migrants face when seeking access to host countries’ labour markets regularly overlook the temporal dimension of the phenomenon under investigation. As this chapter will argue, both failure...

  10. 4 Aspects of the Multidimensional Status Passage: Phases, Migration Motives, and Cultural Capital among Foreign-Trained Migrants in Germany
    (pp. 67-91)

    The multidimensionality of status passages and the interconnection of their dimensions become manifest in the life history of Mr Katekar,¹ a construction engineer who had been working in his home country of India, where he became increasingly frustrated with his job situation and decided to enrol in an MBA program. Unfortunately, his application was rejected by all the university programs in India; he expanded his search to include MBA programs in the United States and Europe. Finally, he was accepted by the London Business School and entered the program there in 2000. Thus, although he had already successfully made the...

  11. 5 Migration Control and Migrants’ Agency
    (pp. 92-156)

    From a biographical perspective, trajectories into the labour market are formed by migrants’ aspirations as well as by the institutional frameworks in which career, partnership, and migration orientations evolve. In the previous chapter, we focused on migrants with a legal status similar to that of the native population. With this focus, we kept one important institutional factor in the background: migration law and regulations. Especially in the early stages of the status passage into the labour market – the transition phase – the nature of a migrant’s work permit is of key importance, and the impact of legal exclusion is...

  12. 6 Symbolic Struggles over Cultural Capital: Racial Discrimination and Symbolic Exclusion
    (pp. 157-203)

    It is difficult to separate the “hard,” institutionally reproduced reality of legal inclusion and exclusion from the “soft” dimension of the symbolic evaluation of migrants’ cultural capital. Who is considered “legitimate” and whose skills and qualifications are deemed valuable are determined through a complex process of legally codified and societal recognition. This chapter will reconstruct the symbolic struggle over the “value” of migrants’ cultural capital. How, in the narrative accounts of our interviewees, does their status as newcomers or minorities affect migrants in their transition into the labour market?

    As pointed out in chapter 2, our understanding of cultural capital...

  13. 7 Up- and Downgrading Cultural Credit: A Cross-Country Comparison
    (pp. 204-241)

    As we have seen in the course of this inquiry, the cultural capital of highly qualified migrants is a relational quality in itself. During the multidimensional status passage through which the highly qualified progress when they immigrate, try to find a place in the labour market, and establish a private life, migrants’ academic knowledge and skills are frequently (re)evaluated: when individuals apply for a visa during the pre-migration phase, when they go through the transition from one country to another, and, finally, when they try to secure a qualified position in the labour market. At all these points, the value...

  14. 8 Conclusions
    (pp. 242-256)

    We started our investigation with a few simple research questions: What barriers prevent the successful inclusion of highly skilled migrants into the labour market? Why does this group that has become the primary target for recruitment programs from around the world seldom achieve equitable access to professional opportunities? We also identified one central reason that traditional policy and scholarly debates have failed to fully address the challenges involved in the integration process: the employment of many highly qualified migrants in positions that do not reflect their skills and experience is widely perceived to be a transitory phenomenon, a market imperfection...

  15. Appendix 1
    (pp. 257-267)
  16. Appendix 2
    (pp. 268-270)
  17. Appendix 3
    (pp. 271-272)
  18. Notes
    (pp. 273-298)
  19. References
    (pp. 299-340)
  20. Index
    (pp. 341-344)