Undocumented Migrants, Ethnic Enclaves and Networks: Opportunities, traps or class-based constructs

This Economic and Social Research Council funded two year research project is a collaboration between the Department of Sociology, City University London and the Working Lives Research Institute, London Metropolitan University. The study will explore the labour market experiences and aspirations of 60 undocumented migrants from three countries of origin - Bangladesh, China and Turkey (including Kurds) - and 24 minority ethnic entrepreneurs employing people from these three groups. The research site is London because the majority of undocumented migrants live in London.

The context of the research is the economic downturn, increasingly restrictive immigration controls, raids on businesses suspected of employing people without correct documentation and the deportation of illegal entrants, rejected asylum seekers and visa overstayers. Within this contemporary context the project is concerned with understanding decisions to use or not to use co-ethnic networks in the search for work in or out of ethnic enclaves, from the perspectives of workers and their employers. The research will be investigating the ways in which migrants and their employers use their social networks and other resources in relation to work and the ways in which working relationships operate within frameworks of ethnicity, class and gender. Given our focus on undocumented migrants, our work will explore any additional disadvantages that might exist as a consequence of imbalanced power relationships, while at the same time analysing the extent to which employment relationships within ethnic enclave employment replicate or differ from employment relationships in general.

 End of project conference material