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- PublicationAccès libreSpatial Mobility Capital: A Valuable Resource for the Social Mobility of Border-Crossing Migrant Entrepreneurs?Spatial mobility is considered a valuable resource for social mobility. Yet, we still have an insufficient understanding of the extent to which and under what conditions geographical movement across national borders represents an asset for social advancement. Addressing this research gap, we offer a theoretical contribution to the fields of transnationalism, migration/mobility, and social geography. We focus on 86 cross-border migrant entrepreneurs who live in Barcelona (Spain), Cúcuta (Colombia), and Zurich (Switzerland), and combine geographical and mental maps, biographical interviews, ethnographic observations, and participatory Minga workshops. Our results show significant inequality in opportunity among the studied entrepreneurs and reveal different geographies of risk and uncertainty for their cross-border mobilities. We theoretically propose that the ability to use spatial mobility as a resource for social mobility depends largely on three intersecting factors: the entrepreneur’s social position, his or her location in geographical space, and his or her strategies. Moreover, we have formulated the concept of spatial mobility capital to define the necessary conditions for spatial mobility to become a valuable resource for social advancement: individuals must be in control of their spatial mobilities, such mobilities need to match their socio-economic needs and personal aspirations, and they must be able to move safely.
- PublicationAccès libreA Review of Transnational Migrant Entrepreneurship: Perspectives on Unequal SpatialitiesThe spatialities of migrant entrepreneurship have changed dynamically in recent decades. Movements and exchanges transcend national borders more than ever, and transnational migrant entrepreneurship has become a burgeoning field of research. Yet, knowledge is dispersed across disciplines, and an understanding of contemporary spatialities is limited. We review 155 articles published in English, French, German, and Spanish since 2009, thereby providing an overview of existing knowledge on transnational migrant entrepreneurship and suggesting avenues for future research. We identify five current topical areas of research: (1) the business advantages of transnational migrant entrepreneurship, (2) the determinants of becoming a transnational migrant entrepreneur, (3) the transnational networks of migrants, (4) the economic impacts of transnational migrant entrepreneurship on home and host countries, and (5) whether local environments enable or deter entrepreneurial success. Building on our synthesis of the most recent literature, we propose three crucial dimensions which have been under-researched in past and current work, and which address the diversity of geographical locations, spatial connections, and spatial mobilities involved in transnational migrant entrepreneurship. Moreover, we put forward a set of questions for future research which will advance a comprehension of unequal opportunities among transnational migrant entrepreneurs.
- PublicationAccès libreSelecting the highly skilled: norms and practices of the Swiss admission system for non-EU immigrants(2018)
;Hercog, MetkaThis article problematizes the concept of highly skilled migrants through an analysis of policy documents and interviews with key informants involved in the admission process in Switzerland. Current political discourse classifies foreigners differently according to their country of origin and skill level. Existing legislation prioritizes immigrants from the European Economic Area and is very restrictive towards third-country nationals. By examining the implementation of the admission policy for labour migration, this article evaluates which criteria matter most to state authorities when determining if someone is a desirable immigrant. Despite its stress on qualifications and economic interest, the admission process for third-country workers was also found to fulfil non-economic objectives such as providing the impression of state control over immigration and of state protection of local populations from migrants. Building on this observation, the article argues that more in-depth studies are required to better understand how states reconcile the different objectives of immigration governance in practice.
- PublicationAccès libreUnderstanding access to the labour market through migration channels(2020)The mobility of the ‘highly skilled’ has become widely researched but only a few researchers have approached this category of migrants from a critical perspective. This article argues that understanding how ‘highly skilled migrants’ are constructed necessitates considering the conditions in which migration takes place as well as the perceptions and practices associated with these conditions. It uses the concept of ‘migration channels’ to investigate the enabling and disabling factors associated with different migration situations. The analysis draws on biographic interviews with highly educated migrants in Switzerland, and supplements these with expert interviews and ethnographic observations of people working in institutions that support, guide, or control migrants’ access to the labour market. The article shows that categories of migrants are artificial and often do not coincide with lived realities. Migrants actively develop strategies to achieve their personal aspirations, but they also depend on the opportunities available in their environment. The concept of ‘migration channels’ enables us to capture this interplay between structures and agency by showing how different actors shape the opportunities and constraints faced by different groups of migrants, and how migrants actively deal with them. This concept thus fosters a critical yet empathic understanding of migration experiences.
- PublicationAccès libreLocalising Informal Practices in Transnational EntrepreneurshipIn recent academic literature, transnational migrant entrepreneurs tend to be represented as active agents capable of mobilising resources situated in different countries to develop new businesses. Mobility, however, is an unequally distributed resource, and restrictive migration regimes limit the possibilities of individuals to become entrepreneurs. This article focuses on the role of informal practices in the business strategies of migrants who develop their activities across national borders. Based on ethnographic research in Barcelona, Spain, it argues that, in a context of unequal access to formal resources, resorting to informality is crucial for many entrepreneurs as it enables them to expand their options for social mobility and achieve personal goals that would otherwise remain unreachable. At the same time, the article proposes a critical perspective on the notions of informality and entrepreneurship. It highlights that these concepts rely on context-dependent norms set by certain social groups and challenged by others, which influence who can become an entrepreneur in specific environments. While certain categories of migrants are favourably positioned with regard to these norms, others are hindered by them and therefore are forced to engage in alternative entrepreneurial activities. How this is achieved and the costs involved depend on the entrepreneur’s capacity to mobilise economic, cultural, social, and moral resources as well as on the perception of their practices as more or less legitimate or socially acceptable.
- PublicationAccès libreEntrepreneurs de la migration: Des stratégies pour contourner les obstacles bureaucratiquesBien que la sélection des étrangers par l’appareil administratif des États joue un rôle crucial pour la structuration des phénomènes migratoires actuels, il existe à ce jour peu d’études qui analysent empiriquement la manière dont de telles procédures fonctionnent et sont vécues lorsqu’elles s’appliquent à des catégories d’étrangers perçus comme « désirables ». La présente recherche tente de répondre à ce manque en proposant une étude de cas ethnographique qui met en lumière l’expérience et l’agentivité des différents acteurs impliqués dans la procédure de sélection des ressortissants non-européens hautement qualifiés cherchant à venir travailler en Suisse. L’analyse montre que l’accès à la mobilité repose sur un ensemble d’interactions complexes qui impliquent non seulement les candidats à l’immigration et les employés d’État, mais également des réseaux d’institutions non-étatiques pour lesquels la mobilité de travailleurs qualifiés représente une source de profit. Ces acteurs facilitent l’accès aux permis de séjour et de travail pour les étrangers dont ils espèrent tirer une plus-value économique. Cependant, ils peuvent également les contraindre à des situations de dépendances et d’immobilité dans la mesure où des systèmes d’admission restrictifs, en Suisse et ailleurs, rendent les étrangers concernés tributaires de leur soutien administratif.