Romano, Serena (PhD student), Poverty and welfare reforms in Eastern Europe

This work, which summarizes the first findings of my doctoral research, is an attempt to investigate the links between poverty patterns and welfare reforms in Eastern Europe by focusing on antipoverty institutional strategies undertaken by Estonia, Poland and Hungary during the last two decades. The scope of this work is examining how transformation processes in a context of both exogenous and domestic pressures have so far re-shaped institutional mechanisms of social redistribution and understanding the implications of recent policy change for the social protection of most vulnerable groups. The first part of the work aims at providing an overall analytical background which may help understanding the current poverty profiles in observed countries within the European Union context. Afterwards, the paper addresses the main issues related to welfare and policy poverty. The last section of the work deals with the transformations undertaken in antipoverty policy through the concept of multidimensional recalibration recently proposed in the literature on welfare reform (Hemerijk, 2006). This part of the work seeks to follow the current trajectories of change by identifying the categories which are most exposed to poverty risks and the mechanisms of social inclusion in order to understand whether they meet the needs expressed by most vulnerable social strata. The scope of the work is not providing a classification of welfare or social assistance schemes in eastern Europe. The research rather aims at suggesting that social inequalities and the impoverishment of specific social groups is still deeply bound to the normative ideas, distributive scope and functional change at the base of the institutional mechanisms of social redistribution.
Serena Romano, PhD student at  Facolt? di Sociologia, Universit? degli Studi di Napoli Federico II.

Ruzicka, Michal (PhD student), Patterns of social exclusion and migration: The case of Roma/Gypsies in former Czechoslovakia

East European societies have been experiencing deep social, political and economic changes since early 1990s. The changes included mainly – but not solely – transition to market economy, de-collectivisation of state owned property, political transformation, and changes in socio-spatial structures and relations. Post-socialist transformation brought changes into urban-rural relations, altered the very structures of "the urban" and "the rural", and affected various social strata differentially. In academic literature the degradation of living standards of European Roma/Gypsies, and their deepening social exclusion since early 1990s is often stressed and partially documented.
   Post-socialist economic and socio-spatial transformation has largely affected Roma/Gypsy communities in Eastern Europe as they possess low symbolic, political and economic capital to utilize in the process of adaptation to macro-structural changes and forces. Migration, or space transcending practices more generally, nevertheless remain to be effective tools to overcome – and adapt to – various dimensions of social exclusion. Several Roma/Gypsy communities that I have been conducting iterative ethnographic research in, apply various kinds of space transcending practices in order to overcome their disadvantaged position in relation to larger society´s resources.
   In my paper I will focus on describing and analysing a particular form of Roma migration, that I call networking migration. Networking migration will be presented and analysed as fulfilling not only economic or political functions, as may be the case of work- and asylum-migration. Main purpose of networking migration will be analysed in utilizing resources embeded in social networks by maintaining and re-establishing existing ties. Existing utilizable social networks of Roma/Gypsies have often transnational character and may transcend boarders of several countries. Dynamics and effects of the networking migration on the social organization of Roma/Gypsy communities will be also discussed.
Michal Ruzicka, PhD student at  the Department of Anthropology, University of West Bohemia, Pilsen, Czech Republic. Main research interests: analysis of aspects of the construction of social exclusion of Roma communities in the city of Brno.  E-mail:

Rygina, Lika (PhD student), Postindustrial Age of Labour Migration: The Case of Poland and Russia
The transformation of the mode of production towards immaterial format has challenged the late XX century human society with several disturbing issues including the re-configuration of traditional social structure and emergence of the new forms of power relationships. Nowadays not only economically advanced Europe and US but more and more countries all around the world experience so-called post-Fordist or postindustrial condition manifesting itself in rapid development of service and intellectual jobs market especially visible in the context of large urban communities. As pointed out by contemporary scholarship, unfixed and decentralized nature of employment in these spheres tails social and job insecurity, social isolation and lack of political representation. The particular notion, precarity, was invented for accounting various effects of the labour flexibility to the peoples’ life.
   Job “precarity” is a concept developed during the studies of contemporary socio-economic processes of the Northwestern and Central Europe. It tends to account socio-political application of the temporary employment to the people’s state of being showing correspondent increase in unpredictability, injustice and inequality. In particular scholars indicated the lack of labor and social security manifested itself in unsafe working condition and limited social grantees including health and retirement insurance. Additionally, the precarity studies revealed weakening of the trade unions as a form of workers solidarity and tendency to the political non-visibility of the temporary employees.
   My study is supposed to concern with a consideration of particular level of development of the postindustrial economics in Poland and Russia. It aims to examine objective aspects of labor flexibility play out as socio-economic and political potentials of the new social groups. Additionally, I am going to investigate subjective conceptualization of precarious condition by people involved. Two social groups - chainworkers (e.g., shopping-centers and logistic workers) and brainworkers (e.g., IT specialists and free-lance intellectuals) – are viewed to be in the focus of analysis. In particularly, I am interested in internal labour migrants who arrive to the metropolises (capitals) from peripheries. Being divorced from the habitable networks of friend and relatives, involved in the fixed termination jobs, without property apart from individual market-valuable skills or characteristics, they represent the labour forth posed in particular risk-full situation.
   On the basis of sociological surveys, analysis of the national welfare state legislations and interviewers with temporary workers, I attempt to answer the following questions: how the system of temporary employment effects job and living conditions of the workers? What is the impact on their political participation? What is a role of welfare state in reducing disadvantages related to the labour unpredictubility? How the condition of labor and life flexibility reflects if people’s self-definition and self-consciousness? What are the individual strategies of cooping with individual problems emerging in this context? 
Lika Rygina, PhD student at the Graduate School for Social Research (GSSR) at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences Main research interests: gender inequality. E-mail:

Safonova, Maria (PhD student), Russian Rural Underclass and Migrant Workers: struggle or alliance?

This paper discusses formation of new lover strata of Russian society: the first can be labeled as underclass and the second is composed by recent migrant workers. These processes could be observed in detail in Russian rural settlements. Negative consequences of social transformations of 1990th were not overcome in some of these settlements, and at the moment they faced with the new waves of social change, namely intensive flows of labor migration from Central Asia.
   The paper is based on the case study of several settlements in the rural area in St. Petersburg region. The case study was conducted in 2006-2008 and based on local statistics, observations, and interviews with residents of the settlements, labor migrants and local employers.
   Economic life of studied area in late Soviet period was based on the three main pillars. The first was agriculture, namely the state farms which were the biggest employers. The second was state wooden industry. The third was quite specific: due to its advantageous position close to the city the settlements were attractive for the building of summer houses (“dacha”) and local tourism. The third pillar created small service strata in the area. In the beginning of 1990th tourism and wooden infrastructure were privatized and further became highly successful. Farms were on the very verge of collapse during 1990th. This resulted in following social division. Those agricultural workers who possessed valuable skills and were adaptive left farms for the new employers. Less adaptive workers were employed on the farm for more then 10 years of lasting collapse, lived in poverty, performed damnable practices (“too much alcohol” etc.) As a result these working families were excluded from local communities and labeled as bad employees. Farms have need even in these workers since they provided with the most undesirable occupation and the lowest earning. By the midst of 2000th the they constituted local underclass and were on the bottom of local social structure, but get low earnings relatively regular.
   Meanwhile the area became even more attractive for the city-dwellers, and massive summer house-building were developed. “Summer-houses industry” led to the inflow of investment and economic growth in the area, but, at the same time, to the following growth of inequality. Residents involved in “summer-houses industry” acquire higher statuses and bigger amount of economic capital. Residents with the bottommost positions were getting worse. It happened due to following reason. Massive house-building led to rise of strong demand for cheap unskilled labor. The demand was satisfied with the flow of labor migrants from Central Asia. At fist they filled the niche of construction workers. Then they filled other niche previously occupied by local “underclass” workers. By the time maturation of labor migration flows (the midst of 2000th) Russian agricultural sector got financial injections from private investors. Farms were ready to employ new and more reliable workers and discharge the old ones as not wanted. Rural underclass turn out to be unemployed and without monetary recourses.
   The report is aimed at answering following questions: what is going on with two new groups of reconstructed society? Can one observe struggle between two new groups or just neglecting or even alliance? What are the present outcomes of these newly-constructed inequalities?
Maria Safonova,  Researcher in project: “Labor migrants in St. Petersburg and Leningradskaia oblast”, funded by “Hamovniki” foundation (Moscow). Affiliation: Department of Political Science and Sociology, European University at St. Petersburg. E-mail:

Satola, Agnieszka (PhD student), The Grandmother Phenomenon: the Connection between the Biography and the Professionalism of Elderly Polish Migrant Women Working Illegally in German Households

The emigration of elderly polish women to Germany is a consequence of social and economic changes, which took place in both countries during the course of the last decades. The economic misery, continuous unemployment and widespread absence of perspective in Poland intensify many women’s will to migrate. Again, in Germany derives the increasing demand on the labour of migrant women for domestic and care work for the elderly from demographic changes and the increase of life expectancy.
   Briefly before or after retirement in Poland, a lot of elder women come to Germany for domestic and care work: So, they begin a new career at an age where one would normally receive a pension and take care of grandchildren. They work mostly illegally but have regular stay in Germany and commuted between Poland and Germany in different intervals, in rotation with other Polish women. They are wanted as “unqualified” cheap helpers, who are to practice households work but in reality they perform very demanding and complex work in caring for elderly people. Mostly they do not have enough language skills to find jobs in other fields. Moreover, domestic work is most suitable for migrant women since the chances of being discovered are quite low. There lies a question that will be answered in this presentation: if they are nonqualified caregivers, what is so professional about these women that merit the handing over of care and household duties? Just as important is, the role of their biographical knowledge in the employment relationship between them and the employer and what kind of social organisation do their duties, which are generally informal, introduce? This paper will discuss also the components of Polish, catholic and post socialistic world views as “biographical resources” with a professional view of work relations as well as how it is restructured when it confronts western European/German work relations. The data collection was based on autobiographical-narrative interviews with elderly polish women, who work illegally in Frankfurt and its surrounding areas as so called ‘live-in’ workers. I conducted the interviews for my PhD thesis. All interviews were conducted in Polish language and translated into German.
   The research concludes with current migration sociological examinations of elderly care, which came about from feminised migration and focuses on an age group that had up to this point not been researched. A detailed knowledge of personal, material und organisational conditions of this irregular work migration und domestic work can provide a basis for wide-reaching deliberations about the organisation of domestic and care work in social and political sciences and also about forms of private negotiated estimation in the care sector.
Agnieszka Satola,  PhD student at the Institute of Social Research at the J.W. Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main and a member of the Institute of Migration Studies and Intercultural Competence at the University of Applied Sciences in Frankfurt. From 2006 to 2008 she worked as a research assistant on the EU-Project “Integration of Female Immigrants in Labour Market and Society“ at the Institute of Social Research at the J.W. Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. Main research interests: professionalization processes of Polish women who are illegally employed as care workers in Germany. Since May 2008, she is a scholarship holder of the Heinrich-Boell-Foundation in Germany.

Sosna, Anna (PhD student), Repatriants as new citiziens. Between formal equality and social exclusion?

The so called „return migration“ of people of Polish origin from the former Soviet Union, especially from Kazakhstan, seems to be an old phenomenon in the meantime. At the same time there are only a few publications, which try to describe the process of
immigration (which used to be called „repatriation“ by Polish legislation and official nomenclature) and moreover to analyse the structural and social integration to the new/old homeland and the Polish host society.
Despite of the fact, that the repatriants as Polish citiziens enjoy from a formal point of view same rights like other members of Polish society, their experiances on the labor market are often quite similar to the experiances, that are made by other immigrants from Eastern countries like Ukraine or Moldawia. The different cultural background of immigrants of Polish origin results in social exklusion from the host society. Members of the host society make a new experience with the social phenomenon to coexist with the new citiziens. Equality established by law doesn´t guarantee automatically the social equality in daily life. Furthermore the same status could be a reason for social and cultural strains between the host society and the immigrants.
   Owing to the fact, that among the both groups exist competition-relationship for resources in the large sense, we can observe the process of identity building among the members of the repatriants group. In their own words they feel like „citiziens second category“ and asking themsleves a question, who they are? The construction of border in order to distinct between „us“ and „others“ I try to explain using the Friderik Barths concept of ethnic border. To show the situation of the Polish repatriants in a greater context of migration movements after the fall of the Iron Curtain I would try to compare their situation with the situation of the descendants of the ethnic Germans, which „return“ in some cases after many generations, to their country of ethnic origin.
   This paper strives to emphasize the correlations between the political, historical and social context on the one hand and the mechanism of identity buildig on the other hand.
   Furthermore, I want to clarify the implications of the development of migration policy patterns regarding the Polish repatriants and comparing this group with the German so called „Aussiedler“, and moreover, I would like to investigate the relationships between German and Polish immigrants, and thus to explore the development of multiethnic areas (Kazakhstan) in which these immigrants settled, in order to ask for the common identity of members of both groups after their resettlement to their countries of ethnic origin. At least I compare the social status of polish repatriants as well as other immigration groups ones in the host society.
Anna Sosna, M.A. in German Language and Literature and Cultural Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. PhD student, currently Research Fellow at the Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies at the University of Osnabrueck in Germany. E-mail: