Anna Gavanas, PhD, Associate professor, Social anthropology and Gender Studies, Remeso/ Linköping University

Multiplex migration and axes of precarization: Swedish retirement migrants to Spain and their service providers

Swedish retirees are part of a growing stream of Northern Europeans who migrate to Southern Europe to retire in the sun. The conditions of international retirement migrants (IRMs) cannot be fully understood without including other actors with whom IRMs interact in their daily lives in Spain, and whose presence conditions their major decisions (and vice versa). In contrast to most previous IRM studies this paper approaches the issue from a dual perspective. In addition to the accounts of IRMs this presentation also considers the perspectives of entrepreneurs and workers who provide services for IRMs (some of whom are migrants from Northern Europe, South America or other regions). Social networks, intermediaries and subcontractors are crucial to the organization of migration as well as for the provision of work and services in the destinations of IRMs. Spaniards and third-country migrants that provide services for Swedish IRMs have little direct contact with Swedish IRMs, partly due to language issues, and partly due to not being hired directly by them. They occupy precarious, and sometimes informalized, low skilled jobs in an ethnically segmented and gendered labor market. Exploring the relations between streams of migrants who meet in Spain, and their intermediaries, this paper explores issues of mobility, the globalization of care and service work, and precarization of labor and livelihoods, of crucial importance to welfare states and the future of work and retirement conditions in Europe. Through this the paper aims to place international retirement migration in a wider context of mobility and individualization of life trajectories and to relate this to recent trends towards precarization and informalization of labor markets. A mélange of migratory processes are scrutinized along a Swedish-Spanish north-south axis. The paper analyzes a complex structuration of precarity reshaped through neoliberal de- and reregulation of work and welfare with a bearing on multiple dimensions of spatial and social inequalities across the European Union.

Anna Gavanas is a social anthropologist currently involved in research on Swedish retirement migrants in Spain as the principal investigator of the project “Swedish retirement migrants to Spain and their migrant workers: interlinked migration chains and their consequences to work and care in Ageing Europe.” Her research covers a wide range of areas, including migration, policy anthropology, welfare states, working life and labor market informalization. Additional areas of specialization are domestic services in the EU, privatization of elderly care as well as U.S. fatherhood politics. In addition she specializes in Popular Music Studies, with a focus on technological change and gender, and has published widely on issues of European DJ cultures.

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