Understanding Citizenship? Egyptian Migrant Mothers Encounter the Limits of Welfare in Italy.
Silvia Lucrezia Botton (Leiden University)
Paper short abstract:
Egyptian migrant mothers construe a sense of belonging to a state of welfare rights in the city of Milan. Although the welfare has few resources, state professionals and the system of distribution inherently induce them to think so. I explore how their sense of belonging and entitlement take shape.
Paper long abstract:
During the months leading up to the eviction of her family, Amal, although she felt tensed, was strongly convinced that social care professionals at the Eviction Center in Milan, would find a solution for her. While they explained it to her more than once that they could not, she read a strategy in their words to undermine excessive demands. Eventually, when the eviction took place, she and her children were offered to be hosted in a facility far from Milan. She was outraged by the inability of the system to find a feasible housing solution, that she had hoped for. She angrily argued that she had the right to it. This paper explores the formation of sense of belonging to a state of welfare rights, in the way Egyptian migrant mothers envision it. Based on twelve months of observations of their encounters with state professionals, welfare workers and volunteers, I reflect, departing from Amal case, on how migrant mothers are persuaded that they are entitled to specific rights - a thought which they have matured over time in Italy, which is utterly incongruent on what is available to them. How then their expectations take shape and rest solid among most of them? How the sense of belonging to a state of rights is born in a state that has few welfare resources? To disentangle this conundrum, I explore the dynamics of a state that claims it lacks the resources and, at the same time, is strongly committed to show solidarity.
Uncertain solidarities: migration, social incorporation, and European welfare states