This project is one of six projects within the six year programme: The Challenges of Polarization on the Swedish Labour Market at the Department of Sociology and Work Science funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, Forte. This project addresses the integration of migrants and minorities into the Swedish labour market by assessing the extent, implications and experiences of ethnic polarisation across different dimensions; that is, between majority and minority populations (first and second generations); and the diversity within the migrant workforce and its distribution across the occupational structure.
Classical migration theory holds that migrants are recruited to perform jobs in the lower sections of the labour market that native workers avoid (Piore 1979; Massey et al. 1998). This also applies to Sweden, where many migrants are employed in low-wage and insecure employment (Johansson & Vingård, 2012). Comparisons of Western Europe countries have show that labour markets are polarised because ethnic minorities do not compete on equal terms with majority populations, and experience a substantial ‘ethnic penalty’ in the second generation (Heath & Cheung 2007; Johnson 2010). Given such patterns, important question arise concerning the prospects of migrants (both first and second generations) to transition into better-paid segments of the labour market and what strategies migrants develop to reduce the impact of discrimination (Modood 2015; Elgenius 2017).
Sweden is considered one of the most gendered labour markets in the world (Charles & Grusky 2004) and intersections of ethnicity and gender need be considered as a ‘double disadvantage’ (Bradley & Healy 2008). However, the tendency towards polarisation within the migrant workforce is another focus for this project as diversity-within is visible with an increasing share of highly skilled migrants in Sweden; for example, computing professionals from India. Thus, the fact that migrant groups are unevenly distributed across the occupational structure requires further attention. For instance, the largest share of migrants within the construction sector is from Eastern Europe, whereas Indian nationals are concentrated in the IT sector (Migrationsverket). This project will critically appraise migrants’ occupational status, prospects and experiences in the Swedish labour market by focusing on diversity within the migrant workforce and the experiences of ethnic penalties in first and second generations (see, e.g., Elgenius 2011, 2017; Frank 2012, 2014; Omanović 2009, 2013, Knights and Omanović 2016).