Accepted Paper:

The meaning of money for Ukrainian migrant women  


Francesca Vianello (University of Padua)

Paper short abstract:

I propose some considerations on the meaning of money for Ukrainian migrant women working in Italy in the domestic and care sector. The analysis is based on a broad doctoral research, that has been realized both in the Ukraine and in Italy

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I investigate the meaning of money for Ukrainian migrant women, who work in the domestic and care sector in Italy. The analysis is based on a broad doctoral research on Ukrainian migratory practices realized from 2004 to 2007.

The main analytical issues that I discuss are the processes of commodification and de-commodification of social relations. In particular, I discuss two phenomena characterizing the migration process and concerning this specific issue: some forms of social exchange monetization and the remittances earmarking.

During this migration process, it is possible to observe the monetization of some kinds of social exchange previously based on a reciprocity system, named the "blat" in Russian. Thus, solidarity is replaced by individual interest and money : and money acquire a more and more important role in migrants' daily life.

Furthermore, for migrants money acquire different meanings at the material, relational, emotional and social level. Money is the reason for the departure. Indeed, the majority of migrants interviewed are breadwinner mothers, who need money in order to support their children. This is also the justification of their permanence abroad for a long time, in front of a society that blame them for betrayal. At the same time, their families get accustomed to live with a high standard life, guaranteed by remittances. Moreover, remittances are the medium through which these breadwinners mothers voice their love to their children. Finally, money is the medium to improve migrants social status, which has been eroded by the process of proletarianization embedded in migration.

Panel W042
Relations that money can buy: negotiating mutualities and asymmetries in local and translocal social fields