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Swedish temp nurses and agency warehouse workers in Norway : Negotiating and strategizing the spatiotemporalities of the migrant worker

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Author list: Olofsdotter, Gunilla;Zampoukos, Kristina

Publication year: 2017


Abstract

In this paper we seek to contribute to the theorization of migrant workers’ ability to strategize around their mobility by exploring the labour mobilities of Swedish agency warehouse workers and temp nurses working in Norway. Nurses and warehouse workers obviously differ in terms of for instance skills and market power, and these differences clearly impact on their mobility strategies. However, our findings also point to the plasticity of workers’ mobility strategies, with workers who make up their pathways as they go and/or as circumstances change. In this paper, therefore, we argue that the intentional, purposive agency as emphasized by the notion of ‘strategy’ (as in ‘mobility strategy’) needs to be complemented by a conceptualization of agency that includes (erratic) probing. Mobility strategies evolve as workers negotiate the spatiotemporalities typically involved in the existence of the migrant worker, i. e. the lives and places that they have (temporarily) left behind, the present situation as temps/agency workers in the host country, and the future that lies ahead. Following from this, we argue that workers mobility agency is imbued as well as informed by the spatiotemporalities of the ‘past-space’, the ‘now-space’ and the ‘may-be space’.


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