Riaño Y, 2011, "Drawing new boundaries of participation: experiences and strategies of economic citizenship among skilled migrant women in Switzerland" Environment and Planning A 43(7) 1530 – 1546
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Drawing new boundaries of participation: experiences and strategies of economic citizenship among skilled migrant women in Switzerland
Received 7 February 2010; in revised form 2 November 2010
Abstract. The concept of citizenship, originally coined by Marshall, and synonymous with social rights and equality, is pivotal in understanding and overcoming the social injustices that many migrants experience. Marshall’s notion of social rights, however, does not elaborate on economic rights. Feminist authors argue that women’s equal access to sources of income outside family relations is key to their citizenship. Access to spaces of paid work is a significant aspect of migrant women’s citizenship because their residence status and naturalization is often contingent on their employment. The author thus argues that economic rights should be central to debates on migration and citizenship. The proposed term ‘economic citizenship’ is used to examine experiences and strategies of fifty-seven skilled migrant women from Latin America, the Middle East, and South East Europe when trying to access positions in the Swiss labour market corresponding to their professional qualifications. The feminist and postcolonial perspectives of ‘intersectionality’ and participatory research are used to understand how and why inequalities in the labour market occur. It is found that traditional ideas about gender roles, discourses about ethnic difference, and discriminatory migration policies intersect to create boundaries for skilled migrant women in accessing upper segments of the Swiss labour market. Migration, therefore, does not always imply empowerment and emancipation, but also generates new forms of social inequality.
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