Eldorado or Fortress? Migration in Southern Europe by Russell King

By Russell King

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Sample text

The latter are generally older and less educated and tend to emigrate according to the ‘traditional’ pattern: a temporary economically motivated stay (Piore, 1983). They maintain strong ties with their country of origin, particularly through their family and fellow nationals, and develop an ‘instrumental’ approach to the job market; namely, they are more ready to accept bad jobs while minimizing any non-survival spending, thereby reproducing a well-known model of first-generation migrants.

The informal economy is strongly linked to regulatory frameworks and their development is contextual with and contingent upon the existing institutional arrangements; hence what is considered part of the underground economy depends on the historical characteristics of the state regulation of economic activities (Mingione, 1997). Likewise, the distinction made between illegal and informal activities depends on each particular regulatory framework. A common example is gambling – a criminal and informal activity in some places, but legal and formal in others.

Finally, the new migrants come from countries that had no previous contact with Italy. They generally lack the basic linguistic competence that acts as a strategic resource in a society where control over information is becoming increasingly important (Quassoli and Venzo, 1997). Statistical evidence clearly reveals that in both absolute and percentage terms, migratory inflows into Italy are smaller than those that have taken place in other European countries. In spite of the very visible presence of immigration, boosted by media attention, it must be pointed out that there is a great disparity between the social alarm raised by the ‘explosion’ and ‘invasion’ of migrants and the real extent of the phenomenon, which is that they do not exceed 2 per cent of the population.

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