Migration and Transnational Informality in Post-Soviet Societies : Ethnographic Study of Po rukam (‘handshake’) Experiences of Uzbek Migrant Workers in Moscow
- Anna-Liisa Heusala
- Kaarina Aitamurto
Summary, in English
This paper situates itself in these ‘informality‘ debates by suggesting that the nature of informal practices in post-Soviet societies is changing, not only in terms of content, form and magnitude, but, more importantly, in terms of geographic scope due to ongoing large scale migratory processes, e.g. massive inflow of migrant workers from Central Asia and Caucasus to Russia. Migrant workers, living their lives across the border of two nation-states, become part of the fabric of everyday life and social relations in their home state, while simultaneously becoming part of the socio-economic processes in their receiving state, thereby facilitating daily flow of ideas, social practices and cultural symbols between migrant sending and receiving societies.
Moving beyond methodological nationalism still prevalent in much informality research, I argue that informal practices in post-Soviet societies are becoming increasingly transnational. These processes are especially visible in the construction sector in Moscow, Russia where informal employment of migrant workers is widespread and carried out through so-called ‘po rukam’ (handshake-based) work contracts, which involve multiple formal and informal actors with very different kinds of power and locations of power: migrant workers, posrednik (informal middlemen), construction companies, Russian police officers, protection rackets, family members and village actors (e.g. local community (mahalla) leader and residents, imam, local police) from migrants home state. Hence, this paper, through ethnographic study of ‘po rukam’ experiences of Uzbek migrant workers in Moscow, aims to show how the interaction of the aforesaid actors across borders (via smartphones and Internet) serve as a governance mechanism of the informal migrant labour market in migrant Moscow.
- Rättssociologiska institutionen
Routledge Contemporary Russia and Eastern Europe Series
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- Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
- Migration and Legal Cultures in Post-Soviet Societies: Ethnographic Study of Uzbek Migrant Workers and Their Families
- ISBN: 978-1-138-10083-1