Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
A Risky Business?

A Risky Business?

Marta Kindler
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 215
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    A Risky Business?
    Book Description:

    This book is about migration as a form of risk-taking. Based on Ukrainian women’s experiences in the Polish domestic work sector, it presents a new approach to analyse movements of female migrants responding to the demand for household labour around the world. Risks involved in migration and in migrant domestic work are accounted for in detail alongside an analysis of the migration decision-making processes. This study shows how social ties and migrant institutions effectively reduce the otherwise radical asymmetry of power between an individual migrant, the state and an employer. A Risky Business? brings to light the complex risk structures of migrants’ activities and their sophisticated responses to them. With their innovative strategies, migrants challenge government-imposed constraints and thus reduce the risks of migration.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1447-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. 1 Ukrainian migrant women, migrant domestic work and risk
    (pp. 9-18)

    ‘[I]t’s normal work, this is what you do, everyone does it,’ said Maria, a 43-year-old woman from Ukraine, when asked about working in Poland’s domestic work sector. Maria first came to Poland eight years ago. At the time of our interview, her visa had expired. As an undeclared care worker, she initially lived in Warsaw’s suburbs in a room shared with over twenty other people. And yet she referred to what she was going through as ‘normal’. Maria’s migration experience is similar to that of many other women interviewed. The risks of irregular migration, such as undeclared work, overstaying or...

  5. 2 Risk, migration and migrant domestic work: Selected theory and research review
    (pp. 19-48)

    In the vast body of research on risk, it is rare to encounter a study on migration risks. The notion of risk has not been used extensively in migration studies, either, and even less so in research concerning migrant domestic work. This is surprising given the fact that migration very often is a gamble on a vector of unknowns. Migrants have to cross an international border, face the set of employment opportunities and work conditions in the destination country, and prove that they are capable of withstanding separation from home. Migrant domestic work seems to be especially risk-loaded due to...

  6. 3 Theoretical approach and research methodology applied in this study
    (pp. 49-62)

    The migrant domestic worker can be analysed as an agent who creates and/or recreates a particular structure. According to Giddens (1979: 55), agency refers to a continuous flow of conduct. The agent is an active subject who has access to a common cultural stock of knowledge that allows him or her to act in a given temporal and spatial context. Being an agent means having an internal structure, which acts as both a constraining and a facilitating factor. Structure refers to particular structuring properties, such as rules and resources. Structures exist ‘paradigmatically as an absent set of differences, temporally “present”...

  7. 4 Ukrainian migrant women’s images of risk
    (pp. 63-104)

    The Ukrainian women had to go through a particular thought process before they took their migration decision to go work in Poland’s domestic work sector. What role did risk play as their decisions were being made whether to migrate, where to and what type of work to engage in? The women had to create a particular image of migration as a worthwhile undertaking. To analyse this process, I introduce the notion of the imagined opportunity space (Schiffauer 2006). An imagined opportunity space is tied to reality as a representation of something that can happen in the future. It can be...

  8. 5 Legal risks of migration and legal risk-balancing strategies
    (pp. 105-136)

    Individual decisions and actions are conditioned by a set of factors operating at each stage of migration (Fawcett & Arnold 1987). One factor that influenced migration decisions of the interviewed Ukrainian women was Poland’s changing administrative procedures for entry. As part of Poland’s EU accession process, new legislation was introduced to comply with theacquis communaitaire. In 1997, a new act on aliens restricted entrance to Poland for citizens of the former Soviet Union, among them Ukrainian nationals. By 1998, the new laws were implemented and their effects were felt by Ukrainian migrants when crossing the Polish-Ukrainian border. The Aliens Act...

  9. 6 Risks and risk strategies in migrant domestic work
    (pp. 137-174)

    Poland’s demand for home-based care is due to a limited provision of institutionalised public and private care services. In large urban centres, such as Warsaw, cleaning services are also sought after. Ukrainian migrant women have learned that the Polish domestic work sector, with its need for care workers and cleaners, provides opportunities to earn sufficient wages to be able to support their families in Ukraine. However, work in the domestic work sector exposes the migrant women to particular risks. On the one hand, the risks result from the character of domestic work: it is undeclared, unstable, related to low social...

  10. 7 Familiar risk: Ukrainian women in the Polish domestic work sector
    (pp. 175-184)

    As Short (1984: 712) noted, there had been little research into ‘how people in fact live with risks and how living with risks affects their perceptions and behaviour’. Risk is an element of everyday life. We are taught to fear particular things and to cope with the potential negative or positive outcomes of our action and other events. Risk means that we may lose something valuable to win something else. In this research, risk was defined as a potentially undesirable outcome, which is socially interpreted as such.

    Why study risk as illustrated among Ukrainian migrant women working in the Polish...

  11. Appendix: Basic data on the Ukrainian women, in order of mention in book
    (pp. 185-187)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 188-199)
  13. References
    (pp. 200-215)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 216-221)