Accepted Paper:

Informal relations and trust: the case of Polish migrant women in Italy  


Elena Sischarenco (University of Fribourg)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the community of Polish women working in the private care sector in Italy. In particular it explores their relationships with women from their own country, with Italians and with the Italian Institutions. This paper underlines the fundamental use of informal relations and the role of trust in both their experience in migrating and their life in Italy.

Paper long abstract:

The purpose of the research is to analyse in depth the relations established by Polish women both in Italy and in Poland, both before and during their experience of migration, with the aim of understanding the importance of these relations and of trust. A survey and qualitative ethnographic methods were employed.

With regard to the importance of trust in the post-socialist societies it is important to observe that the informal relations created to search for a job in Italy are first established in Poland. Only in few exceptional cases do Polish women arrive in Italy without a job.

The situation of instability already present in their original society and due to the post-socialist period added to an other situation of instability: the migratory experience, increases the general level of mistrust of these women. This mistrust cannot lead to an absence of social relations, especially considering their situation of need. In fact it brings to a particular attention to the relationships they establish and an increase of the importance of the role of trust in every aspect of their life.

There is an extensive use of informal relations in every aspect of the migrants' working and social experience in Italy, even as far as their approaches to the Italian Institutions are concerned.

Panel W048
A matter of trust: anthropological explorations into an old concept