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Migration Management?

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Sandra Paola Alvarez Tinajero

Chapter 1. Labor migration flows to Ragusa: the fuzzy boundaries between cores and peripheries

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1Ragusa is an Italian province that receives labor inflows from specific regions of different countries including India, Poland, Romania and Tunisia. These inflows result partly from Ragusa’s contemporary structural needs in the agricultural and care sectors, as well as from the different ties it maintains with those regions and the action of social networks. Ragusa holds a contradictory position in the North-South conventional development divide: while this province is often associated with the South (the ‘underdeveloped’ end); given its participation in the world economy, it exhibits core-like structural needs met through the integration of labor-exporting regions within a specific migration system. This is further explored in the following, including a discussion on current labor migration inflows to Ragusa and their contextualization.

Ragusa: core or periphery?

  • 1 The province of Ragusa includes the following municipalities: Acate, Chiaramonte Gulfi, Comiso, Gia (...)
  • 2 Sassen conceives global cities as those in which some of the global economy’s key management and co (...)

2Ragusa is one of the nine provinces of the autonomous Region of Sicily, Italy, located in South-Eastern end of the island. It consists of twelve municipalities including the capital, the comune of Ragusa.1 (See Appendix III: Location maps). There are many Sicilies, as the Sicilian writer Gesualdo Bufalino aptly argued. Ragusa is one that proudly embraces the makeover that the touristic sector has recently promoted, shaking the image of the typically sealed rural Sicily that once captivated Italo-American filmmakers. Fully incorporated into the global economy, Ragusa is responding to its internal labor imbalances by welcoming labor migration. However, Ragusa is somewhat different from the cities that Sassen (1991) qualified as global.2

  • 3 Ragusa was nominated because of the late Baroque art and architecture concentrated in these towns, (...)
  • 4 Hotel and non-hotel accommodation facilities passed from 52 in 1999, to 382 in 2009, increasing als (...)

3In 2002, Ragusa – and the old town Ibla – was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.3 Since then, tourism has developed at a rapid pace. The old town was renovated, and noble palazzi and rural bourgeoisie houses (masserie) were converted into luxury hotels and high-end restaurants. There has been a massive expansion of agritourism and, in Ibla and the coastal area, of bed and breakfasts (B&Bs).4 A large number of shops offer curious travelers a wide range of traditional products from olive oil, to chocolate, sun-dried tomatoes, local cheese, handmade embroideries, and even T-shirts with hilarious phrases in Sicilian dialect… Two shopping malls opened in the suburbs of Ragusa city; the touristic seaport of Marina di Ragusa was renovated (in 2009); a five-star golf resort and spa was built in Donnafugata (in 2010); a new Mediterranean wine and food school was recently inaugurated in Ibla, and the former military airport and NATO base of Comiso opened for civilian use in 2013. Along with visitors, a burgeoning upper-middle class benefits from this recent makeover.

4During the day, Ragusa offers marvelous views, great food and wine, warm weather, and hospitality to the visitors that admire the architecture of the Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto. At night, the old town of Ibla turns into a sort of real Christmas crib, on the top of a hill, with tiny yellow lights illuminating its alleys… On my first trip to the beach, however, I noticed that the roads were bounded by massive plantations, greenhouses and dry-stone walls (muri a secco) that once divided feudal concessions. Despite the stylish looks of the capital city, I could understand why Tariq, as many other migrant workers, was taken by surprise: “… [W]hen I arrived my dad brought me from Palermo… I had seen the pretty houses, lots of beautiful things... And then when I arrived [here] I saw the mules, the cows, and then I thought ‘where am I?’ [laughs]...” (Interview A.12.5.09). Indeed, Ragusa did not entirely fit into the image of the developed North he had in mind.

5It was in that kind of setting that a few foreign workers became visible, as they walked down the same dusty roads that took tourists to the beach. I was curious about the reasons that bring migrant workers to Ragusa, instead of other Italian urban centers well-known to tourists and foreign workers alike.

  • 5 For example, the construction of the highway Siracusa-Ragusa-Gela, a project initiated in 1974, rem (...)
  • 6 Putnam, nevertheless, essentializes social capital, depicting it as the endowment of certain groups (...)

6For better or for worse, Ragusa is portrayed as “an island within the island” (un’isola nell’isola). While the expression depicts an idyllic enclave, it also reflects the contradictory position of Ragusa within the North-South development divide. To borrow another expression coined by Bufalino, Ragusa province is babba, naïve, or innocent in a colloquial sense. This portrait is proudly adopted by Ragusans, as the province seems to be spared the backwardness, the organized crime, and the fiefdoms that prevail in ‘other Sicilies’. Ragusa is arguably one of the wealthiest provinces. Its wealth relies on sophisticated agricultural practices. Mining, asphalt, cement, and black-stone industries and the renewable energy industry also play a significant role in the provincial economy. Conversely, geographical isolation, and a poor economic and social infrastructure constitute major obstacles to Ragusa’s economic development (SISTAN 2007: 21).5 Putnam (1993) was certainly not the first to notice the stark disparities that divide Italy.6 150 years after unification, some voices still claim that “Garibaldi did not unite Italy [but] divided Africa” (The Economist 2011).

7Nonetheless, Ragusa is not exempt from the effects of neoliberal restructuring. Struggling to maintain high economic and welfare standards, it has turned to foreign workers to fill essential production and reproduction jobs in its farms and homes. Two conceptual frameworks within which to contextualize contemporary labor migration inflows to Ragusa are dual labor market, and migration systems theory. Dual labor market focuses on structural factors that drive labor migration flows and is useful to analyze Ragusa’s structural labour needs (or core features) in the dairy and care sectors. The systemic approach provides a useful framework to explore the ties between Ragusa and different migration poles.

Structural needs

  • 7 Skilled jobs in the capital-intensive sectors tend to guarantee work-related security and higher wa (...)
  • 8 Over eight million people are employed in manual occupations in Italy, including: specialized artis (...)

8Dual labor market theory is based on economic dualism, which opposes the modern industrial sector and the traditional agricultural sector; reflected, for example, in the polarization of the labor market.7 From a dualist perspective, it is the characteristics of the jobs and their social meaning that turn certain sectors and occupations unattractive for local workers and create a structural demand for foreign labor. Two prototypes of secondary jobs in the Ragusan economy are agriculture and domestic service (especially eldercare). The share of the foreign population employed in agriculture and domestic work is noteworthy.8

  • 9 The notion of structural inflation relates to the social function of wages. Wages convey social sta (...)

9Dual labor market posits that labor migration is demand-based. The demand for foreign labor emerges from the structural characteristics of destination societies including the duality of the labor market, structural inflation, motivational problems, and demographic and sociocultural changes.9 Technological advancement cannot curtail the demand for foreign labor because the positions at the bottom of the occupational hierarchy can never be eliminated (see Nikolinakos 1975, Jenkins 1978, Hojman 1989). Despite the various shortfalls of this approach, the characteristics of the jobs that migrants perform in Ragusa, and thus the structural factors underlying the demand for foreign labor, can be read in dual labor market terms.

Agriculture: structural needs and the challenges of open economies

10Agriculture has always played a key role in Ragusa’s economy. The province is renowned for the production of fruit (citrus fruits, grapes, apricots), vegetables (cherry tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, artichokes), and flowers, mostly grown in greenhouses situated along the coast. Ragusa is the second largest producer of vegetables in Italy, and contributes 40 and 5.4 percent to the Sicilian and the national gross marketable production, respectively (2004 estimate). Ragusa has also specialized in cattle-farming, meat, milk and dairy products. The province contributes to 80 percent of the milk and dairy production in Sicily (Telenova 2012). However, Ragusan milk, dairy and meat industries are modest compared to those of the north of Italy, which concentrates over 50 percent of Italian cattle farms, and 70 percent of the cattle itself (ISTAT 2010).

11The Ragusan dairy industry is being severely affected by the liberalization of agricultural products, which places a great burden on small farms to remain profitable:

I think agriculture and zootechny in our South are disappearing because we can no longer afford to produce owing to the costs we have […] It is not an issue of mechanization, but of political choices, globalization, financial markets […] The problem is twofold: production costs and the markets; we sell in the same markets than countries with lower production costs... […] Today, producing milk is nonsense, especially here, 10km away from the sea, with regular droughts and the weather we have… Producing one liter of milk in this part of the world costs 32 cents, but we sell in the same market than the Germans, whose milk costs 18 cents […] We cannot afford to sell our product at such prices... [...] If you have to work from two in the morning to eight in the evening, 365 days a year and you can’t make a thousand euros a month (which is what I pay my employee) there’s no point in assuming all this responsibility (Interview L.11.5.09)

  • 10 The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has introduced market-oriented reforms since the early 1990s. (...)
  • 11 The general agricultural census is conducted every ten years. The 2010 census reveals that the numb (...)

12European agricultural policies10 and international market dynamics have caused the exit of many small agricultural businesses, in favor of more competitive and larger entities. Most farms in Ragusa are small family-run businesses (of an average size of 4 hectares per unit; SISTAN 2007). In the past decade, the number of agricultural businesses has decreased significantly both at provincial and regional level.11 Large firms (30 hectares and over) make up five percent of the agricultural businesses in Italy, and cultivate 54.1 percent of the arable land (ISTAT 2010). In an open economy, the effects of regional agricultural policies are not contained within the Italian or European borders, but affect the global agricultural markets and prices, with consequences in third countries including emigration.

  • 12 Ragusan products are seldom commercialized at international level. In 2005, provincial exports cont (...)
  • 13 The Agreement between the EU and Morocco concerning the liberalization of agricultural products was (...)
  • 14 The number of businesses with land property titles passed from 327,874 in 2000 to 175,589 in 2010, (...)

13Ragusan products are not competitive in international markets.12 Hostile geographic conditions, deforestation, water scarcity, a poor infrastructure and important energy requirements translate into high production costs. An agreement recently signed between the European Union (EU) and Morocco concerning the liberalization of agricultural products further provoked outrage among Sicilian farmers. The text indicates a strong conviction on the part of its drafters that liberalization can alleviate poverty and unemployment, pointing to what are conceived of as the root causes of economic, migratory and security “problems” in the region.13 Property is another indicator of the challenges experienced in the agricultural sector. Although direct ownership of the land is the prevailing form of tenure, many farmers have leases;14 as a result, they face greater pressure to make profit in order to repay their loans or recover their investment. The consequences are the flexibilization of labor and the increased vulnerability of (migrant) workers.

14Some authors argue that the Italian economy has experienced a crisis of the “Fordist” model, and has reorganized production accordingly, emphasizing flexibility (Calavita 1994). The global economic crisis further aggravated the situation. Because labor costs directly affect the price of agricultural products, farmers turn to less labor-intensive products to cut production costs. A horticulture entrepreneur, for example, used to grow vegetables and ornamental flowers in greenhouses. His firm started as an individual business in the 1980s. By the mid-1990s it had grown sufficiently to become a cooperative. However, within twelve years it had experienced losses that made it necessary to turn into an individual business again. Ornamental flowers are no longer profitable. People cut this kind of unnecessary expenses in times of economic recession. The entrepreneur in question possesses 2.5 hectares, and admits that to make what he calls “a good product” the firm requires four workers per hectare; thus, approximately ten workers. However, but from the eleven workers he once had, he has kept only three (all foreign). Despite cutting by more than half the labor force, he produces a less labor-intensive product sold at a high price, using a cheap labor force, and still makes a profit. (Interview F.26.8.11).

  • 15 In 2005, the agricultural sector in Ragusa employed 16.5 percent of the total agricultural labor fo (...)
  • 16 Recently, the European Commission recognized that the agricultural income dropped substantially in (...)

15Social transformations have also affected the composition of the agricultural labor force in Ragusa, especially in the farming sector. While for many decades agriculture has been the main source of income and employment, today, the service sector absorbs the largest share of the labor force.15 Wages play a key role in the definition of occupational hierarchies. In the agricultural sector, besides long-standing income stagnation,16 low-wages (around 40 euros a day; INAIL 2010) make the sector unattractive to Ragusan workers. Furthermore, higher educational rates and perceptions about prestige and social status shape local workers’ attitudes towards agricultural jobs. Such attitudes combine with employers’ assumptions about the qualities of foreign workers. According to the discourse of employers interviewed in Ragusa, migrant workers are being hired because: a) local workers shun agricultural jobs; and b) foreign labor force is cheaper, more ‘committed’ to work, and more available (as live-in workers).

16Agricultural jobs are associated with a low social status, as described in employers’ discourses: “Ragusans do not want to work with the cows”, “they don’t like to work on the farms”, “they snob agricultural work because they have become bourgeois and they want clean jobs; and it has nothing to do with a financial incentives”, as some employers noted. Although many Ragusans are employed in the agricultural sector, they often detach themselves from the more degrading or ‘dirty’ tasks (i.e. those involving direct contact with the animals and the soil) and prefer to perform ‘cleaner’ tasks (e.g. driving a tractor). An employer observed that “the countryside is perceived as a place where you get dirty; so people disdain the countryside; they prefer to work in [urban] Ragusa where they may take up construction jobs, and even if they have to toil when they go back home they’re clean” (Interview R.23.08.11).

17Landlords constitute an important share of the agricultural labor force (97.6 percent of the businesses in the province remain under direct supervision of the owner; SISTAN 2007: 49). However, family labor has decreased by 36.7 percent in Sicily.17 Most employers inherited the farms from their grandparents and parents. Over 70 percent of farm supervisors in Sicily are 50 to 70 years old and over (ISTAT 2010). Indeed, young Ragusans are not taking over family businesses. Most employers insist that their adult children, who had better educational opportunities, refuse to take up agricultural jobs, which encourages them to continue recruiting foreign workers,18 as illustrated below:

Since there is progress, Italians no longer sleep in the countryside… My son wants to work, but you see, he holds a diploma [sarcastic tone], how cute! He told me ‘it’s boring’ [working on the farm]… It would be good if he helped me… but, poor guy! Can you imagine? In the milking room, with his white shirt, with a pen in his hand to write letters and numbers! [sarcastic] I know what the problem is... I start milking at 5:30 in the morning... the poor child is not used to it… (Interview C.26.12.10)

18The family plays a key role keeping local educated youth at home or in the university “rather than have them dent family prestige by taking [on] low-status jobs” (King 2000: 15, see also Reyneri 1998). The employer cited above, further claimed that young Ragusans can afford to shun agricultural work because they are (financially) supported by the parents.

  • 19 In Italy the number of foreign agricultural workers with a definite contract was estimated at 113,1 (...)

19In sum, Ragusan farmers are struggling to fit in highly competitive global markets, and to cope with the price volatility of agricultural goods. In this context, production costs, especially labor, are cut to keep their activities profitable. This is yielding results: Sicily is the third most cost-competitive region after Lombardy and Puglia (ISTAT 2012). Employers turn to foreign workers not only to reduce costs, but also – given that most of these workers live on the farms – because of their ‘greater availability’. Social factors (higher educational standards, social aspirations, and family support) encourage and allow local workers to shun agricultural jobs. Simultaneously, informal social mechanisms allow Ragusans to seize the cleaner tasks of agricultural work and avoid the dirtiest ones. Most employers interviewed have actively recruited foreigners since the 1980s. By the turn of the century, 92.6 percent of foreign residents in Ragusa were employed in agriculture; today the figure is 62.6 percent (CeSPI 2000, Caritas 2011).19

Eldercare: structural needs and market-oriented welfare choices

  • 20 The number of domestic workers was estimated at 124,885 (76 percent female) in 1999; 409,307 (83 pe (...)

20There are 1.5 million domestic workers in Italy, and 71.6 percent of these are migrants (CENSIS 2009). Since 2001, 400,000 new employees have entered this sector, and the share of ‘senior’ workers (aged 50 and over) is growing (CENSIS 2009). The number of foreign domestic workers in Italy has increased in the past decades, and demand continues to grow.20

21Domestic work cannot be outsourced to low-wage countries, as it requires migrants to integrate in the employer’s household and adapt to their preferences and habits (Lutz 2008: 2). Contemporary demand for foreign domestic labor in post-industrial societies is often explained through economic and socio-demographic factors, including: demographic changes (e.g. the aging of the native population); the greater participation of women in the labor force; the lack, or inadequacy, of public welfare services; the commodification and privatization of domestic work and care provision; the expansion of the middle classes (Ehrenreich and Hochschild 2002, Gutiérrez-Rodríguez 2010, Lutz 2008 and 2011, Yeoh et al. 1999). Some authors conceive of domestic service as an intrinsic element of (economic) development and the related political choices (Chin 1997, Glantz 2005). Moreover, in Italy, in particular, the Catholic ideology of charity and the family are thought to substitute the state’s welfare responsibilities (Baganha 2009).

  • 21 INPS (2005), “Domestic workers in Sicily”,
  • 22 In Ragusa, in 2005, 18 percent of the population were aged 65 years and over, and 4.5 percent 80 ye (...)

22An aging population certainly influences the demand for care workers. Between 2000 and 2010 the number of persons aged over 65 years (1.8 million) was larger than that of the active population (1.4 million). About one sixth of the population aged between 70 and 74 years, and almost half of those aged over 80 years, is no longer autonomous (Caritas 2011). In Sicily, the number of (officially registered) foreign domestic workers passed from 5,516 in 1995, to 8,483 in 2001 to 11,809 in 2005.21 Ragusa has witnessed similar demographic changes; and it has turned to new European and third country workers to satisfy its care needs.22

  • 23 Men are also employed in the care sector in Sicily (Cole and Booth 2007). Their incorporation in th (...)

23Although the domestic sector is highly heterogeneous, this study is concerned with female migrant workers employed in eldercare.23 Sarti argues that until the mid-nineteenth century “domestic servants were mainly hired to free housewives from the drudgery of housework, not to allow them to have a job” (2008: 92, emphasis in original). In Ragusa, I found a partial continuity of that pattern. Caring for the elderly is part of the families’ responsibilities. The family, though highly heterogeneous, is a powerful institution in Sicily. Expanded family ties are highly desirable, as reflected in practices of residential propinquity, household extension, and frequent social interaction (Cole and Booth 2007: 36). Traditionally, eldercare is entrusted to female adult children or female relatives. In this context, the greater participation of local women in the labor force offers an incomplete explanation of the demand for foreign care work, especially given the prevailing disparities in employment rates between men (72.5 percent) and women (32.2 percent) in Sicily (SISTAN 2007).

24Most employers interviewed (the majority of them female) recall having only recently required some kind of ‘help’ at home. Ragusan women continue to be largely responsible for care and domestic work, and everything related to the domestic realm. To all appearances, foreign care work is not a substitute for women’s family and care responsibilities; rather, it coexists with them, allowing local women to share the burden. As Lutz notes “the asymmetry between the genders does not disappear... by outsourcing the ‘female work’ to migrant women…” (2008: 49), gender regimes remain intact.

  • 24 The infrastructure of assistance to the elderly in Ragusa is composed of 51 structures (out of whic (...)

25As in other European countries, in Italy the demand and greater access to foreign domestic labor appear to be also linked to market-oriented welfare policies (see Williams and Gavanas 2008) that support the privatization of care. In addition to the eldercare facilities being insufficient,24 social factors play a major role in structuring the demand for private eldercare services, as enrolling the elderly in a private or public facility is considered to be unacceptable (as ‘a source of shame’ and a ‘strategy of last resort’. See Cole and Booth 2007).

26Welfare policies with a market-oriented taste have enhanced families’ primary role in the provision of eldercare through direct payments. In 2004, the province disbursed 57,890 pensions (SISTAN 2007), almost half of these to the elderly (47 percent), of an average amount of 618 euros. In 2005, the average monthly salary of care workers in Italy was estimated at 662 euros (Caritas 2005). The former suggests that average pensions of the elderly could hardly suffice to afford private care services, on top of other basic expenses. Indeed, it is often adult children who hire foreign caregivers. Currently, direct cash payments or allowances to eligible relatives of care users is the prevalent welfare intervention at local level (Piperno 2006). Besides subsidizing private care, welfare policies have made private domestic service more affordable. Since 2005, families willing to hire a domestic worker can do so if their annual income is twice the worker’s annual remuneration. It is estimated that about half a million families can afford domestic service (Caritas 2005).

  • 25 It is estimated that 154 million euros were collected in taxes; and the national social security ex (...)

27As argued by some authors, it is not the absence of public support, but the nature of that support that enhances the privatization of care provision (Williams and Gavanas 2008: 14) and possibly fuels the demand for foreign labor. Similar policies are found in France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom (Anderson 2006, Scrinzi 2008). Cash payments in Italy are unregulated; the recruitment, management and remuneration of care workers is left to “individual care consumers”, as Ungerson has noted, with the likely result being that “such consumers will seek out labour that is cheap, and yet authentically ‘caring’” (Ungerson in Anderson 2006: 3). The former is duly accompanied with migration policies, which favor the recruitment of foreign work force in the domestic sector (Scrinzi 2008: 29). The recent regularization of about 300,000 domestic workers, for example, has yielded positive outcomes not only for domestic work or care consumers, but also for the public finance.25 It can be thus argued that the Italian state supports the market ideology and freedom of choice of consumers, privatization and deregulation of the care sector, including the recruitment of foreign care workers, while maintaining the gendered care regime unchanged.

28Furthermore, domestic service is associated with issues of class and status (Constable 1997, Destremau 2002, Dickey 2000, Hojman 1989, Mozère 2002, Piette 2000). In Ragusa, there is a burgeoning middle-class that inherited the wealth of the peasant generations. As an example, affluent families normally own an urban dwelling, and a summer residence by the sea, which lies at a distance of some 25km from the city. This is quite astonishing for visitors in general, and for care workers in particular, as stated by several of my interlocutors. Middle-class women with higher consumption standards can, and eventually prefer to, hire foreign domestic workers to look after the elderly. It is also worth noting that this job entails intimacy. Hiring foreign care workers allow native-Ragusan women to abandon ‘embarrassing’ or ‘dirty’ tasks, maintain their independency, without dishonoring their family obligations (see also Cole and Booth 2007). In addition, local women employed in domestic service tend to prefer housecleaning over eldercare, because the later it requires 24-hour availability and it is perceived as a low-status occupation.

29Seemingly, the demand for foreign domestic labor in Ragusa results from a combination of structural needs, social attitudes, and market-oriented welfare policies that allow families to uphold their solidarity and reciprocity values through money or direct payments. The supply of foreign labor may help local women to conciliate their gendered role of caretakers and their independence, by sharing their care responsibilities with a (female) migrant worker. As such, the provision of (affordable) paid care by foreign workers makes Ragusan women’s life more comfortable.

30The dualist approach thus uncovers a number of formal and informal economic and social mechanisms underlying the demand for agricultural and care foreign labor in Ragusa.

Linkages with source areas

  • 26 After World War II some industrialized countries initiated labor recruitment programmes. France, Sw (...)

31Migration is everything but a new phenomenon to Ragusa. The province has experienced a range of migration transitions first as a colony of the Roman Empire, as well as under Arab, Norman, Savoy and Bourbon rule; latter as a migrant-sending area, a transit zone, and currently as a receiving area. Contemporary labor migration to Ragusa is better understood if situated within the Southern European framework. King (2000) provides a succinct account of Southern European migration transitions (namely in Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain) ranging from early intra-Mediterranean trade-based migration during the mercantilist epoch to colonial emigration to the Americas in the following centuries, which fostered the expansion of the world capitalist economy, to mass emigration from Southern Europe to North America in the late nineteenth century until the Great Depression, to renewed emigration under recruitment schemes to northern Europe (Belgium, France, West Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland) in the post-war era.26 Almost half a million Sicilians emigrated in the decade 1950-1960 alone (Cole and Booth 2007: 17). Some authors see this phase as an “internal colonization” process driven by the expansion of capital in Western Europe (Nikolinakos 1975). By the early 1970s, in view of the economic recession, labor-importing countries ended recruitment; but family reunification continued to enlarge the share of foreign residents in their territories. Recently, Southern Europe was seen as a transit zone for migrants heading towards more attractive northern destinations. Yet, immigration became a key feature of regional migration dynamics since the 1970s, gaining momentum in the 1980s; consolidating Southern Europe as a destination area in the 1990s (Consoli 2009, King 2000, Reyneri 1998).

32Many authors agree on the shared determinants of recent labor migration flows to Southern European countries, from tighter immigration controls in traditional destinations (e.g. France, Germany) that favored the emergence of new Southern European destinations, to the lax implementation of migration policies and the difficulty to police the region’s borders, to the heavy dependence on tourism, shipping and trade that led to the simplification of the admission of a large number of visitors, to a prosperous informal economy that could absorb a flexible supply of foreign labor force (King 2000: 8-11). Some authors argue that the position of migrant workers in the Italian dualistic economy is partly the result of extensive government and union regulation of the formal economy (Calavita 1994: 308). It is estimated that the highest share of informal employment (45 percent) is absorbed by the south of Italy (CENSIS 2009: 12). Finally, recurrent regularization campaigns seemed to have encouraged further immigration (Consoli 2009, Reyneri 1998).

33It is in this context that Ragusa, which had been a peripheral migrant-sending area, became a receiving area. Nationals mainly from Tunisia, Romania, Albania, Morocco, and Poland, together, make up 81.5 percent of the foreign resident population (Demo ISTAT 2010). India also figures among the first fifteen countries of origin. Foreign residents represent 6.6 percent of the total provincial population (estimated at 316,113 in 2010).

  • 27 The share of the foreign resident population (foreign citizenship) in Italy passed from 1 percent i (...)
  • 28 Sources: SISTAN 2007; Demo ISTAT, as of January 1st 2010; and Provincia Regionale di Ragusa, Direzi (...)
  • 29 There is evidence of a high incidence of irregular immigration in Ragusa, estimated at 31 percent ( (...)

34As in the rest of Italy, the number of foreign residents in Ragusa has increased steadily passing from 8,698 in 2001 (despite falling to 7,547 in 2002), to 10,281 in 2005, to 18,472 in 2009, to 20,956 in 2011.27 The municipalities of Vittoria (4,675), Ragusa (3,366), Comiso (2,002), Modica (1,754) and Santa Croce Camerina (1,660) concentrate about 73 percent of the foreign resident population.28 Needless to say, official statistics neither capture the size of undocumented migrant flows or stocks in Ragusa,29 nor trace the high internal mobility of this population.

  • 30 World systems theory posits that capital penetration in non-capitalist societies generates material (...)

35Following migration systems theory, in which labor migration is an inherent feature of the contemporary global economy,30 some historical, economic and cultural ties between Ragusa and the sending areas included in my sample (India, Poland, Romania and Tunisia) can be identified.

Linkages with agricultural labor-exporting areas

  • 31 The number of Tunisian residents in Ragusa is estimated at 6,419 (74 percent male; Demo ISTSAT 2010 (...)

36Tunisian migration to Sicily started in the 1960s; and stabilized in the 1990s in Palermo, Catania, the port of Mazara del Vallo (in the fisheries sector) and the province of Ragusa (especially in horticulture and zootechny) (Avola 2009, CeSPI 2000, Cole and Booth 2007)31. Ragusan employers recall recruiting mainly Tunisian workers around the 1980s, which coincides with the arrival dates of Tunisian interviewees. Tunisian workers interviewed are legal residents; they come mainly from Monastir, and they all had already some relatives or contacts in Sicily before migrating. In some Tunisian sending areas, the longstanding character of migration to Sicily has developed into a culture of migration, as illustrated by a Tunisian worker’s statement: “… Everyone, even those just born, or little kids, they tell you they want to go to Italy because they see you coming back and forth, bringing stuff, cars…” (Interview A.11.5.09).

  • 32 There are 744 companies entirely or partially owned by Italians in the country, employing 55,600 pe (...)
  • 33 Terna, http://www.terna.it/Default.aspx?tabid=1908, accessed 20/01/2012.
  • 34 Accord de coopération touristique entre la Tunisie et l’Italie, 18 janvier 2006.
  • 35 Thematic areas include agriculture, environmental issues (sewage water and solid waste management, (...)
  • 36 The stock of emigrants in Tunisia makes up 6.3 percent of the population; the main destination coun (...)
  • 37 The government offers consular and social assistance through the appointment of social attachés and (...)

37Specific linkages between Ragusa and Tunisia have developed based on a common history, geographic proximity, trade, and international and bilateral cooperation. Italy is Tunisia’s second most important trading partner and largest investor32. Ragusa in particular has established commercial relations with Tunisia and other North African countries (35 enterprises were reported to exist by 2000). Some Ragusan entrepreneurs have also made investments in the agricultural sector in Tunisia (CeSPI 2000). Also, a joint Italo-Tunisian electricity project was recently launched.33 Tunisia and Italy are further linked by important touristic flows and cooperation agreements in this sector.34 In addition, the Italian development cooperation supports public and private initiatives in a wide range of sectors35 and decentralized cooperation initiatives exist between Palermo and Tunisia (Stocchiero et al. 2005). Bilateral cooperation also touches upon migration. Bilateral agreements have been signed both in response to security concerns, and co-development incentives (e.g. on seasonal labor migration – in 1997 and 2000, readmission – in 1998; Chaloff 2004). In exchange for collaboration in the fight against undocumented migration, Tunisian nationals benefit from preferential entry quotas in Italy. Tunisia is also a major recipient of remittances.36 This has raised the interest of the Tunisian government in fostering links with the expatriates through its consular network.37

38In Ragusa, Tunisian workers are mainly active in horticulture. Some have achieved better working conditions; a few have become entrepreneurs in this sector (there are about 800 Tunisian and Algerian small agricultural businesses in Ragusa; La Repubblica 2012. See also Cole and Booth 2007). In the zootechnical branch, Tunisians are being increasingly replaced by Indian workers.

  • 38 Worldwide, India is the second largest emigration country after Mexico (with 11.4 million emigrants (...)
  • 39 Both Punjab and Haryana were at the center of the Green Revolution in India. Punjab is known for th (...)

39India and Italy are bridged by migration networks and financial flows.38 Indian migration to Italian northern cities was most likely facilitated by the regularization processes of the 1990s, which allowed for migrants’ recruitment in small- and medium-sized factories (Reyneri 1998). In northern cities, Indian workers have been traditionally employed in manufacturing and in the dairy sector. In Ragusa, the size of the Indian community (regular residents) is small (59 residents in 2010, 61 percent male; Demo ISTAT 2010). My Indian interlocutors in Ragusa come from Punjab and Haryana, which are primarily agricultural regions.39 Data from interviews suggest that labor migration flows from specific regions in India to specific areas of destination in Italy are backed by robust social networks and a particular migration industry (see Chapter 3).

  • 40 After the partition of the country in 1947, the water treaty of 1960 restricted India's right to us (...)

40Economic and social transformations in the agricultural sector in Punjab and Haryana -- in particular local and national resource management policies40 and lack of wage earning -- have also resulted in the displacement of small-holders and subsistence growers. Some farmers are mobilized, through their networks, into local or international migrations. Sanjeev, who works on a cattle farm in Ragusa, comes from Punjab; he used to be a farmer. The rising production costs (linked to fuel prices and lack of access to water) pushed him out of the sector, and out of his country:

41In my country even agriculture has become difficult to practice, because fuel is expensive… in my village there’s a lot of water, but I am not allowed to take even a bottle of water, that’s how law works in India… water must go to Rajasthan and Haryana… they say those regions are poor and Punjab is rich… but there are no rich in India; […] the government has harmed us. That is why all peasants are here, in England, Mecca, Jeddah, all abroad... (Interview I.12.5.09)

  • 41 This entity is entrusted with the responsibility for facilitating the engagement of Punjabi migrant (...)

42As Sassen further observes, “[m]easures commonly thought to deter emigration – foreign investment and the promotion of export-oriented growth in developing countries – seem to have had the opposite effect” (1996: 84). Small farmers around the globe share similar pressures linked to rising production costs, price volatility, competition, lack of viable local markets, and wage stagnation. Aware of its role as a migrant-sending country, India established the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to protect and assist Indians abroad. Punjab, a major region of outmigration, concerned with engaging migrants in local development initiatives, also established a local Non-Resident Indian (NRI) Affairs Department in 2007.41

43Economic interdependency, trade, bilateral relations, regional cooperation regimes, agricultural and migration policies and migrant networks have fostered some linkages between Ragusa and northern Indian regions, and enhanced longstanding relations with Tunisia. In this particular migration system, sending countries are not necessarily subordinated regions. Localized linkages among agricultural sending and receiving areas, reveal how the world economy affects small farmers worldwide. As Grasmuck noted more than thirty years ago, “early versions of dependency theory overemphasized the eternal determination of peripheral economies and erroneously minimized the autonomous capitalistic growth possible within the periphery” (1982: 366). Nevertheless, power and economic imbalances do enable some countries to satisfy their structural needs, and to bargain for favorable conditions for their farmers, whereas others do not have the same privilege. Market forces can shape migration flows, but they should not be overestimated. Cultural and ideological links have also an important role bridging various migration poles, as discussed below.

Linkages with eldercare-exporting areas

44The presence of foreign workers in the Italian domestic service sector has a long history. The Catholic Church played an important role in the early recruitment of foreign domestic workers in Italy in general, and in Sicily in particular (e.g. the Salesian order). The Church was a key employment broker of female migrants from the Philippines, Cape Verde and Mauritius to Palermo (Cole and Booth 2007; see also King 2000, Reyneri 1998, Salazar Parreñas 2001, Scrinzi 2008). Colonial ties facilitated the incorporation of female migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia into the domestic sector as well. These migration flows were eventually perpetuated through chain migration. Today, some female migrants of the above-cited communities continue to be employed in domestic service.

45There are indications that pioneer domestic workers in Sicily have achieved horizontal or vertical mobility, leaving the bottom ranks of the sectoral hierarchy to newcomers (Cole and Booth 2007). Sarti (2008) claims that domestic migrant labor from Eastern Europe is the result of the enlargement of the areas where domestic workers were traditionally recruited since the late nineteenth century. Some studies highlight the growing importance of Eastern European women’s integration in domestic service in Western Europe as a whole (Currie 2009, Lutz 2008, Romaniszyn 2000). Recently, a large number of Eastern European female workers have entered this niche in Italy too (see Appendix II: Domestic work in Italy).

  • 42 These are the two countries represented in my sample of domestic workers.

46In Ragusa, the number of Romanian residents is estimated at 4,098 (53.6 percent female), while Polish residents amounts to 772 (77.2 percent female) (Demo ISTAT 2010).42 Several factors explain the increasing presence of care workers from these two countries in Ragusa: the transition of these countries to the market economy; the accession of both countries to the European Union; the relative geographic proximity and greater access to transportation means that connect Ragusa and specific sending areas; cultural ties; migrant networks (Chapter 3 http://books.openedition.org/​iheid/​1730). The transition to the market economy had devastating effects, including high rates of unemployment and underemployment, and the dismantling of the social protection system, as described by interviewees:

Woman 1: For many years Romania was a communist country… under communist rule, everyone had a job, everyone!

Woman 2: Little by little jobs disappeared and factories closed down… we have had democracy for twenty years now… the situation was better under communism; every young person had a job.

Woman 1: There were jobs, houses, everything! […] Ours is a forced migration, we are forced to migrate, do you understand? We have to migrate in order to move forward. (Interview R1.3.1.11)

Before you could find a job; I had a job, I worked in a clothes factory, sewing, but it was not well paid […] In Romania people are lazy, especially after the revolution. Before it was not like that… It was a communist country, so you had a job; everyone worked. The problem was that we didn’t have anything to eat. Now we have everything, except for money! (Interview V.3.1.11)

  • 43 Romania signed bilateral agreements with Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, and Switzer (...)
  • 44 In 2010 the volume of remittances in Poland was estimated at 9.1 US billion dollars and in Romania (...)

47The fall of state-run industries, high levels of unemployment among women, gender discrimination and little government support for women in paid work (Currie 2009: 107), encouraged many to seek for job opportunities abroad. There are also indications of the emergence of a culture of migration in certain sending areas. Additionally, labor migration is seemingly viewed as a tool that may alleviate unemployment pressure in Romania, and bring hard currency through workers’ remittances. Through the Office for Labor Migration (Ofiicul pentru Migratia Fortei de Munca, OMFM) established in 2001, overseas employment of Romanian workers has been actively promoted.43 The migration corridor between Romania and Italy is one of the ten most important corridors in Europe and Central Asia (WB 2011). Today, Romania is the second most important destination of Italian remittance outflows after China; it received 823 million euros (12.2 percent of the total Italian remittance outflows) in 2009 (CENSIS 2010). Poland and Romania are the 15th and 18th most important countries of emigration, with 3.1 and 2.8 million emigrants, respectively, and both are among the top remittance-receiving countries worldwide.44 It can be argued that there is some interest among sending countries to protect their nationals abroad and, if not to promote, at least not to curtail labor migration outflows.

  • 45 Romaniszyn concurs with Cieślińska’s (1995) distinction between three periods of migration from Pol (...)

48Some scholars argue that migration outflows from Poland are not entirely new. Unemployment increased almost twenty-fold between 1989 and 1991 and compelled many people to migrate (Cohen 2006), especially from single-industry and agricultural areas. Some scholars argue that growing consumption aspirations, combined with the economic and political changes that took place in the 1990s, explain the persistence of labor migration flows to the Mediterranean region. These flows, however, started as a political exodus in the 1980s, in the aftermath of the imposition of travel restrictions under the martial law in Poland (Romaniszyn 2000).45 Some authors thus distinguish between the early flows of Polish refugees/migrants that arrived in Italy in the 1980s, and the new (economic) migrants, engaged seasonal and long-term migration (Kosic and Triandafyllidou 2004). Wage differentials between Italy and Poland constitute an important pull factor, not only for young male economic migrants as commonly assumed, but also for retired women, as stated by most of my interlocutors in Ragusa.

  • 46 By 2007 there were about 100,000 foreign sojourners from Poland in Italy, and more than half a mill (...)

49The accession of both Poland (1 May 2004) and Romania (1 January 2007) to the European Union brought a new dimension and further facilitated circular migration between these two countries and Italy.46 ‘New’ Europeans can travel freely with their identity cards between Ragusa and their areas of origin. They do not need a work permit to perform domestic or care work, only their identity cards and a fiscal code, which is relatively easy to obtain (Caritas 2007). In addition, as part of the ‘migration industry’ that has developed between Ragusa and the specific sending areas in Romania and Poland, a transport industry that caters to these migrants and offers relatively cheap services (from transport to bus rental and touristic tours) has expanded, connecting several towns in Romania and Poland with Ragusa.

  • 47 Nevertheless, Italy signed a readmission agreement with Poland in 1991 (Chaloff 2004).

50Finally, some argue that labor migration flows between Italy and Poland (and I would add Romania) hardly fit into the systems hypothesis of prior contact or penetration of the receiving nation, in the form of state-run recruitment of foreign workers (Romaniszyn 2000). Italy did not initiate labor migration schemes,47 and does not maintain ‘colonial’ ties with these countries. Yet, cultural linkages, such as a common Christian faith, explain why so many care workers (in particular from Poland) feel so welcome in the private sphere of Ragusan households:

Woman: This family wants only Polish, if there are not Polish [workers]… I don’t know… maybe they hire others… in my opinion it’s like that because of the Pope, Pope Wojtyła, because the Pope was Polish, and everyone is religious, they prefer Polish.

Question: The family with whom you worked before hired Polish workers?

Woman: Yes, yes, many, many, because of Pope Wojtyła (Interview T.24.8.11)

51The Christian faith is one factor around which employers and workers build their resemblance. A Romanian worker specified that every day after lunch she prays together with her employer. Questioned about the religion she professes she clarified: “I make Orthodox prayers and mamma makes Catholic prayers” (Interview V.26.8.11). About half of the migrant population in Italy professes a religion derived from Christian faith (Caritas 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009). In Ragusa, a Catholic religious service is offered in Polish every Thursday, catering especially to care workers. Orthodox devotees are also widely accepted (Caritas 2009). The premises of a Catholic church in Ragusa have recently been renovated to host Orthodox devotees; the church was entrusted to a Romanian priest (see Figure 4). Future research could inquire into how locals perceive the religious practices of other migrant groups (e.g. Indian and Tunisian).

Chapter conclusion: Fuzzy boundaries between north and south

52In conclusion, it could be argued that Ragusa’s participation in the world economy translates into structural conditions, such as the pressure on farmers to cut their production (especially labor) costs to remain competitive. The demand and growing presence of foreign workers in the care sector points to the demographic (e.g. the aging of the population) and social factors (e.g. gender regimes, the expansion of the middle class), as well as to market-oriented welfare policies (direct payments to families) that render foreign care labor an opportunity to ‘share the burden’ for Ragusan women. The recruitment of migrant workers in Ragusa is further determined by the nature of both agricultural and eldercare work, which cannot be outsourced to low-wage countries. Moreover, migrants are perceived as more suitable and available to fill the marginal occupations that locals shun. Thus, the need for (low-skilled) foreign labor is also a social construction.

  • 48 More recent literature on assimilation and on migrant entrepreneurship propose more nuanced insight (...)

53Dual labor market theory, however, assumes that most migrants in secondary jobs are virtually unskilled and inevitably confined to low-status positions. However, more attention has been paid to the characteristics of the labor market, the contexts of reception and social mechanisms that shape migrant worker’s labor and social mobility.48 The dualist approach also posits that competition with native workers is unlikely, unless migrants settle permanently and develop similar aspirations to those of locals. Ragusans do compete for agricultural and domestic jobs with migrant workers, but tend to avoid the more degrading tasks. Moreover, under the dualist perspective, it is assumed that migrants’ economic motivations enable them to dissociate their jobs from their social status in the receiving context. As argued in Chapter 4 http://books.openedition.org/​iheid/​1731 and Chapter 5 http://books.openedition.org/​iheid/​1732, migrants are keenly aware of their social standing both in their region of origin and in Ragusa, as shown by the strategies deployed to contest their status in the receiving context. Finally, the unilinear pattern of rural (traditional) – urban (modern) migration implicit in the dualistic perspective does not allow to question Ragusa’s position in the North-South development divide, and migrants’ preference for a region that hardly qualifies for many as developed North.

  • 49 Italian television today is broadcasted throughout Europe, as well as in the Mediterranean basin (R (...)

54The migration systems perspective provides a more comprehensive framework to identify the various kinds of ties between Ragusa and some sending areas. In the Mediterranean basin, migration has been facilitated by historical ties and geographical proximity (e.g. with Tunisia). Also, the integration of a world (neoliberal capitalist) economy has had far-reaching effects displacing poor farmers (e.g. in Sicily and in India). The transition to the market economy in former communist countries of Eastern Europe, and regional integration processes, increased the provision of foreign (care) labor to Ragusa. Furthermore, globalization processes and a growing ‘migration industry’ have rendered transportation and communication means more accessible, enhancing the existing linkages between Ragusa and specific sending areas. Cultural ties (e.g. Christian faith, cultures of migration, TV broadcast)49 have further contributed to building links between sending areas and Ragusa. Migrant networks play a central role in structuring and shaping these flows (Chapter 3 http://books.openedition.org/​iheid/​1730).

55In sum, structural approaches shed light on the factors underlying the integration of Ragusa and a number of sending areas into a unique migration system. Along these lines, Ragusa seems to be caught in an odd contradiction, as it is often located at one end of a North-South development divide, where the South is considered as typically backward, traditional, and underdeveloped. To the disenchantment of migrant workers, Ragusa keeps a range of peripheral traits. Yet, the structural demand for foreign agricultural and domestic labor has been met by a supply of workers from both European and third countries. This core outlook indicates that its structural economic and social needs are comparable to those of other post-industrial economies that benefit from global regimes of inequality. The boundaries that once divided core and peripheries are blurred by the same processes of capital expansion that created them, challenging the simple geographical North-South divide still widespread in migration and development studies.

Notes

1 The province of Ragusa includes the following municipalities: Acate, Chiaramonte Gulfi, Comiso, Giarratana, Ispica, Modica, Moterosso Almo, Pozzallo, Ragusa, Santa Croce Camerina, Scicli, and Vittoria.

2 Sassen conceives global cities as those in which some of the global economy’s key management and coordination functions are concentrated. These cities produce both a demand for highly skilled professionals and (through the consumption practices of highly paid professionals) for low-wage service workers (Sassen, 1991 and 2002).

3 Ragusa was nominated because of the late Baroque art and architecture concentrated in these towns, all rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake. Ragusa is built over three hills separated by a valley. The old Ragusa (inferiore, or Ibla) has existed since medieval times; whereas Upper Ragusa was built after 1693. Ragusa hosts nine Baroque churches and seven palaces. UNESCO, “Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto (South-Eastern Sicily)”, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1024, accessed 26/01/2012.

4 Hotel and non-hotel accommodation facilities passed from 52 in 1999, to 382 in 2009, increasing also the bed density distributed among structures ranging from one to five star categories: resorts (536 beds), “houses” for holiday use (766 beds), B&B structures (1064 beds), agriturismo (324 beds), rooms for rent (383 beds). B&Bs represent 60 percent of all non-hotel facilities. (Provincia Regionale di Ragusa, Direzione Generale Ufficio Statistica, updated 31/12/2010,

http://www.provincia.ragusa.it/statistiche/statistica_pubblicazione.pdf accessed 29/01/2012.)

5 For example, the construction of the highway Siracusa-Ragusa-Gela, a project initiated in 1974, remains incomplete. Despite a 250 million euros investment, only 14km are functional (Felice 2008). The airport of Comiso, despite being inaugurated in 2007, opened only in 2013. Administrative obstacles and conflicting political interests at local, regional, and national level hamper the completion of these projects (see Bellano 2012; Redazione Corriere di Ragusa 2008; Redazione Reteiblea 2011).

6 Putnam, nevertheless, essentializes social capital, depicting it as the endowment of certain groups. In his book Making Democracy Work he argues that virtuous circles of cooperation, trust, reciprocity, civic engagement, and collective well-being characterize northern “civic communities,” whereas vicious circles of defection, distrust, shirking, exploitation, isolation, disorder and stagnation are found in Italy’s south.

7 Skilled jobs in the capital-intensive sectors tend to guarantee work-related security and higher wages; whereas lower-skilled jobs in the labor-intensive secondary sector are characterized by informality, low wages, poor working conditions, a weak organization of the labor force, insecurity, limited mobility prospects, and inferior social status.

8 Over eight million people are employed in manual occupations in Italy, including: specialized artisans (over 4.2 million); technicians such as electricians and plumbers (1.7 million) and lower-skilled workers (2.2 million). The most common occupations are domestic service (969,580); construction, carpentry, etc. (705,126); drivers (588,262); mechanics (511,636); electricians, plumbers (472,435), and specialized agricultural workers (354,325). Between 2005 and 2010, the share of Italians in manual occupations decreased by 11.1 percent, whereas the share of foreign workers increased by 84.5 percent; about 718,000 migrant workers have replaced Italian workers in manual occupations (CENSIS 2011).

9 The notion of structural inflation relates to the social function of wages. Wages convey social status and prestige. Rising wages at the bottom of the occupational hierarchy in order to attract the native labor force to low-status positions would entail wage-wage inflationary spirals in other jobs, a consequence that employers are often unable or unwilling to afford. Motivational problems refer to the difficulties in attracting native workers into secondary jobs because of the few opportunities for upward mobility that they offer. Employers, therefore, turn to migrant workers, who are likely to accept low wages and instability, owing to the fact that they are temporary target earners in the receiving society. Sociocultural changes relate to the expansion of education, and the increasing participation of youth and women in the labor force who leave vacant positions at the bottom of the occupational hierarchy. Demographic changes include population aging, the decline in birth rates. Other social factors refer to the availability of public and private services; and even changes in lifestyles and in the family structure (e.g. single parent families, the expansion of the care industry, the emergence of new middle-classes) (Piore 1979; see also Massey et al. 1993)

10 The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has introduced market-oriented reforms since the early 1990s. In 2003 the CAP reform encouraged farmers to produce according to demand, supporting them with direct income aid. The reform included direct payments to producers, payments for private storage and the public storage regime. Compliance with environmental, food safety, public health, and animal welfare standards have become part of contemporary farmers’ responsibilities. Failing to meet “cross-compliance” rules entails reductions in direct payments. The issue of surpluses and subsidies is at the heart of the agricultural policy debate. Despite the introduction of measures that limit surplus products (e.g. quotas on milk production) neither regional nor international regulatory frameworks (e.g. the 1995 WTO Agreement on Agriculture, the Doha Development Agenda) have eliminated EU subsidies to agriculture, which affect third country farmers (EC n.d.). The CAP is due to be reformed by 2013, embracing the principles of “inclusive, sustainable, and smart growth”, designed to cope with food security, environmental, employment, competitiveness, and innovation concerns. Direct payments continue to be paramount to achieve “viable food production”, sustainable resource management, and “balanced territorial development”. While a recent communication acknowledges that this policy could cause potential “disruptive changes” with “far reaching economic and social consequences in some regions or production systems”, it does not discuss further the position of the EU on this matter (EC 2010).

11 The general agricultural census is conducted every ten years. The 2010 census reveals that the number of agricultural and zootechnical businesses in Italy decreased by 32.2 percent since 2000, passing from 2,405,453 in 2000 to 1,630,420 in 2010. In Sicily, the figures are respectively 349,134 in 2000 and 219,095 in 2010 (ISTAT 2010). In Ragusa, the number of agricultural businesses decreased by 8 percent between 1990 and 2000, according to the 5th agricultural census (SISTAN 2007).

12 Ragusan products are seldom commercialized at international level. In 2005, provincial exports contributed only 2.6 percent of the total exports in the region (SISTAN 2007: 43). Regarding energy consumption, while the number of farms in Ragusa represents half of those in Catania (25,230 and 50,290, respectively; SISTAN 2007: 49) their energy requirements are identical.

13 The Agreement between the EU and Morocco concerning the liberalization of agricultural products was passed on 16 February 2012 by the European Parliament. It entails an increase in the number of quotas and the reduction of import duties for a wide range of fruit (oranges, clementines, melons, strawberries) and vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, garlic, cucumbers) that compete directly with Sicilian products. European Parliament resolution of 16 February 2012, 2012/2522(RSP).

14 The number of businesses with land property titles passed from 327,874 in 2000 to 175,589 in 2010, whereas leases passed from 2,843 in 2000 to 9,838 in 2010 (ISTAT 2010).

15 In 2005, the agricultural sector in Ragusa employed 16.5 percent of the total agricultural labor force in Sicily (excluding foreign workers), whereas the service sector absorbed 61.4 percent of the total active population, and the industrial sector employed 11.2 percent of the labor force (SISTAN 2007).

16 Recently, the European Commission recognized that the agricultural income dropped substantially in 2009, aggravating the already significant disparities between agricultural income (lower by an estimated 40 percent per working unit) and other sectors. Income disparities between rural and urban areas were also exacerbated; in rural areas the income is about 50 percent lower than in urban areas (EC 2010).

17 ISTAT 2010. “6th Agricultural General Census”, http://www.istat.it/en/census-of-agriculture, accessed 27/01/2012.

18 Most farm supervisors in Sicily completed either a primary or secondary school cycle (32.3 and 30.6 percent respectively). Today, the share of farm supervisors with a university degree related either to agriculture (1 percent) or other fields of study (7.7 percent) remains small (ISTAT 2010).

19 In Italy the number of foreign agricultural workers with a definite contract was estimated at 113,112; while those with an indefinite contract were 17,979 in 2004. Most workers from Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Albania and Morocco tend to hold definite contracts, while Indian workers tend to have indefinite contracts (Caritas 2005).

20 The number of domestic workers was estimated at 124,885 (76 percent female) in 1999; 409,307 (83 percent female) in 2002, and 342,065 (87 percent female) in 2005. Italian domestic workers (129,020; 96 percent female) are clearly outnumbered by foreign workers (INPS 2005). Demand continues to grow as shown by the number of people benefiting from the regularizations that took place in 2002 (500,000 foreign domestic workers; over half of them from Romania, Ukraine and Poland) and in 2009 (300,000 domestic workers; one third were care workers) (Caritas 2005; Caritas 2009). In 2006, out of the 350,000 authorizations approved under the decreto flussi, half of the applications belonged to the family-services category; by 2007 the number of foreign domestic workers had reached 700,000 (Caritas 2007). It is worth noting that statistics reflect a partial reality only as not all the workers admitted under the family services may ultimately take up these jobs.

21 INPS (2005), “Domestic workers in Sicily”,

http://servizi.inps.it/banchedatistatistiche/domestici/MAPPEHTML/SICILIA2005numero.HTML, (accessed 22/05 2008)

22 In Ragusa, in 2005, 18 percent of the population were aged 65 years and over, and 4.5 percent 80 years and over. The provincial aging index (the number of people aged 65 and over per 100 youths under age 15) was estimated at 109; while in 2003 it was 106.7 and in 2002 104.9. The dependency ratio (the number of dependents aged 0-14 and over the age of 65, to the total population aged 15-64) is estimated at 52.3 percent (SISTAN 2007: 25). Concomitantly, the number of regular domestic workers in Ragusa passed from around 283 to 841 in 2005 (INPS 2005), to between 538 and 1,360 in 2008 (INPS, Osservatorio sui lavoratori domestici, http://www.inps.it/webidentity/banchedatistatistiche/menu/domestici/main.html, accessed 26/01/2012).

23 Men are also employed in the care sector in Sicily (Cole and Booth 2007). Their incorporation in this sector can be explained: a) through employers’ preferences (e.g. for same-sex caretakers); b) through migrant networks that channel male workers into domestic service; and c) thanks to the greater possibilities to obtain a work permit in this sector (on this last point see Reyneri 1998). The local press has reported cases in which male workers fake their occupation to obtain domestic work permits (Redazione Corriere di Ragusa, 2010a and 2010b, Ragusa News 2010).

24 The infrastructure of assistance to the elderly in Ragusa is composed of 51 structures (out of which only three are public) designed to accommodate 1,353 users. In addition, 14 residential structures accommodate 3,777 users (SISTAN 2007).

25 It is estimated that 154 million euros were collected in taxes; and the national social security expected to collect 1.3 billion euros between 2010 and 2012 (Caritas 2009). While the regularization decreased the absolute number of irregular workers, certain provisions are judged by advocates of the affordability of domestic service as incoherent with the needs of employers and employees. Families willing to hire domestic workers must demonstrate an annual income of 20,000 euros. In 2008 only two regions exhibited such income (Caritas 2008); which suggests that domestic service remains largely informal (Caritas 2010).

26 After World War II some industrialized countries initiated labor recruitment programmes. France, Switzerland, and Germany were the main destinations of virtually half of the 15 million Italians who emigrated between 1876 and 1920 (Cinanni in Castles and Miller 2009: 87). Between 1945 and the early 1970s, emigration from the Mediterranean to cores in Europe, North America and Oceania was the predominant migratory trend. In the 1960s rural-urban labor migration from the south of contributed to the economic development of northern cities such as Milan, Turin and Genoa (Castles and Miller 2009: 100). In addition, the free movement of workers within the European (Economic) Community, effective since 1968, fostered emigration from Italy to Germany (Castles and Miller 2009: 101).

27 The share of the foreign resident population (foreign citizenship) in Italy passed from 1 percent in 1995 to 7.5 percent (4.5 million) in 2011. Regularization campaigns of the 1980s and 1990s contributed to the (statistically reflected) increase of the foreign population (ISTAT 2008, ISTAT 2012 Noi Italia), which grew threefold since 2001. This trend has slowed down owing to the economic downturn. Moreover, new EU citizens are no longer reflected in these records. Almost half of the foreign population (49.4 percent) is employed in domestic service (or “services to persons”); in industry (21.1 percent), construction (16.5 percent), trade (8.9 percent) and agriculture (4 percent); the majority as subordinated labor (CENSIS 2010). Statistics need to be interpreted with caution. The numeric increases in the foreign resident population can be explained, for instance, in terms of the number of work and residence permits released in a specific year; which does not necessarily reflect new arrivals.

28 Sources: SISTAN 2007; Demo ISTAT, as of January 1st 2010; and Provincia Regionale di Ragusa, Direzione Generale Ufficio Statistica, as of December 31st 2010.

29 There is evidence of a high incidence of irregular immigration in Ragusa, estimated at 31 percent (number of irregular migrants out of 100 migrants present; ISMU 2006: 49). The share of unauthorized landings passed from 27.3 percent in 2001, to 99.7 percent in 2004 (ISMU 2006: 16). The number of landings intercepted in Sicilian coasts was 21,400 in 2006; 16,875 in 2007, 34,540 in 2008 and 8,282 in 2009 (CENSIS 2010). The number of landings decreased in 2009 (9,573) but increased again in 2011 (over 60,000 by September) in the midst of political turmoil in North African countries. More than 10,000 asylum requests were filed in 2010 (Caritas 2011).

30 World systems theory posits that capital penetration in non-capitalist societies generates material and ideological linkages that facilitate migration, as well as disruptions such as commodity relations that create wage-labor force and uprooted people (at all ranks of the social hierarchy) who are prone to migrate. Some authors identify three phases of capital penetration and misbalancing of labor exporting areas: the coerced labor extraction (slavery); deliberate labor recruitment practices (nineteenth to mid-twentieth century); self-initiated labor flows, which result from cultural diffusion of consumption patterns from the advanced centers to peripheral societies (Portes and Böröcz 1989: 608). This approach has been widely criticized for adopting a deterministic approach, a sedentary bias, and market rationality principles. Both equilibrium and structuralist approaches treat labor power as a commodity and are based on market rationality (supply and demand forces) and the principle of maximization (Bach and Schraml 1982). Deterministic perspectives, grounded in modernization or dependency theories, at the individual or macro-structural level, have been also criticized for assuming that prior to capitalist development, ‘pre-modern societies’ were stable, static, and homogeneous peasant communities – known as the “sedentary bias” (de Haas et al. 2009: 16-17). “Migration systems theory” (Massey, et al.1993) is inspired by economy (and is grounded in dependency theory), social psychology (it acknowledges migration decisions), geography (it looks at migrant networks), and law (it is concerned with immigration frameworks). A migration system is defined as two or more places linked by flows and counterflows of people (Fawcett 1989: 671). From this perspective, the processes underlying, structuring, and sustaining international migration include: a) (in line with world systems) the historical, economic and cultural ties that may exist between areas bridged by migration, and the political, demographic, economic and social contexts in which migration occurs; and b) migrants’ agency, networks, and a wide range of actors that structure and sustain migration flows (Kritz and Zlotnik 1992, Portes and Böröcz 1989). Individual and collective migration decisions matter, but are always affected by economic, political and cultural contexts (Faist 1997: 199).

31 The number of Tunisian residents in Ragusa is estimated at 6,419 (74 percent male; Demo ISTSAT 2010), concentrated in the municipalities of Vittoria and Santa Croce Camerina, which host about 3,119 Tunisian nationals (over 70 percent male; Comuni Italiani 2010, http://www.comuni-italiani.it/, accessed 2/02/2012).

32 There are 744 companies entirely or partially owned by Italians in the country, employing 55,600 people in agriculture, tourism, industry and services (Republic of Tunisia, Ministry of Regional Planning and International Cooperation, http://www.mdci.gov.tn/, accessed 26/01/2012). Trade between Sicily and Tunisia is also important. In 2000, out of the 400 Italian firms established in Tunisia, 22 percent were Sicilian enterprises, mainly from Palermo and Caltanissetta (CeSPI 2000:12-13).

33 Terna, http://www.terna.it/Default.aspx?tabid=1908, accessed 20/01/2012.

34 Accord de coopération touristique entre la Tunisie et l’Italie, 18 janvier 2006.

35 Thematic areas include agriculture, environmental issues (sewage water and solid waste management, reforestation), cultural and natural heritage, social affairs (disability, healthcare), infrastructure works (construction of dams), technical cooperation and financial aid (credit lines for SMEs in agriculture, fisheries, and services – transport, education, health), and emergency aid (e.g. improving the facilities hosting Libyan asylum seekers). The duration of the projects and the amounts disbursed varies widely, from a couple of months to several years; and from a few thousand to billions of euros. In general, project implementation is ensured by local governments, the Italian cooperation and their partners (Cooperazione Italiana allo Sviluppo, http://www.cooperazioneallosviluppo.esteri.it/, accessed 26/01/2012). According to Tunisia’s Ministry of Regional Planning and International Cooperation (http://www.mdci.gov.tn/), there are more than 53 bilateral agreements. The Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC) programme recently implemented between Italy and Tunisia 2007-2013 benefits from the financial support of the EU and includes 13 projects, many of which relate to agriculture and agro-industry (Coopération Transfrontalière Italie-Tunisie 2007-2013, http://www.italietunisie.eu/, accessed 26/01/2012).

36 The stock of emigrants in Tunisia makes up 6.3 percent of the population; the main destination countries are France, Italy, Libya, Germany, Israel, and Saudi Arabia (in order of importance). The stock of immigrants represents 0.3 percent of the population; Italy is the fourth most important source country, after Algeria, Morocco, and France, and followed by Libya. The volume of workers’ recorded remittances reached 2 billion US dollars in 2010 (5 percent of the country’s GDP); classifying Tunisia among the ten most important remittance recipients in the Middle East and North Africa (WB 2011).

37 The government offers consular and social assistance through the appointment of social attachés and assistants (in Sicily, the Tunisian consulate is based in Palermo). The Board of Tunisians Abroad, established in 1988, provides customs benefits, information related to return, social coverage, financial, postal, social and cultural services (e.g. Arabic lessons and summer schools), among others (Board of Tunisians Abroad, http://www.ote.nat.tn, accessed 26/01/2012).

38 Worldwide, India is the second largest emigration country after Mexico (with 11.4 million emigrants, in 2010) and the largest remittance recipient country (officially recorded remittances were estimated at 55 US billion dollars in 2010). Italy is an important remittance source country (the sixth in the world) and India is among the first fifteen destinations of Italian remittances (WB 2011, CENSIS 2010).

39 Both Punjab and Haryana were at the center of the Green Revolution in India. Punjab is known for the production of wheat; it contributes two-thirds of the annual food grain production in India; a share of its food grain stocks is transferred to deficit areas through a public distribution system. Punjab has witnessed a rapid industrialization and was nominated as a good place for doing business in 2009, by the World Bank. It hosts many national and multinational corporations (Government of Punjab, http://punjabgovt.gov.in/, accessed18/02/2012). Haryana is also an agricultural region known for the production of rice, wheat, maize, and cash crops such as sugarcane, cotton, and oil seeds. It is also specialized in dairy products. Agricultural and manufacture industries are important for the local economy, and the state provides incentives for IT and ITES/BPO Industry including facilities for IT Parks. Haryana is the beneficiary of a large irrigation project, together with Punjab and Rajasthan. The project entails the construction of the Hathni Kund barrage, a 109km multipurpose canal, and low height dams (Know India, National Portal of India, Haryana, http://india.gov.in/knowindia/state_uts.php?id=9, and Government of Haryana, http://www.haryana.gov.in/; both accessed 18/02/2012).

40 After the partition of the country in 1947, the water treaty of 1960 restricted India's right to usage to three rivers Satluj, Beas and Ravi. Punjab has three dams (Bhakra Dam, Pong Dam, and Ranjit Sagar Dam) and a 14,500km-canal surface water distribution system, and some low dams in the disadvantaged Kandi Area. According to the Government National Portal, the canal water and electricity is provided for free to Punjabi farmers (Know India, National Portal of India, Punjab http://india.gov.in/knowindia/state_uts.php?id=22, accessed 18/02/2012). Even so, some farmers interviewed in Ragusa deplore the fact that they have to travel long distances in order to get water, which implies additional fuel costs and the rise of production costs.

41 This entity is entrusted with the responsibility for facilitating the engagement of Punjabi migrants in development initiatives. Highlights of its activities include: matching grants to finance government-NRI joint infrastructure projects; the promotion of foreign investment and cultural exchange (mainly with the UK), fostering NRIs’ attachment to their motherland; providing online services to NRIs and maintaining effective links with NRIs through the creation of a Data Bank of NRIs, and through the dissemination of the Government’s efforts to assist Punjabis abroad in foreign media (Government of Punjab, NRI Affairs, http://www.nripunjab.gov.in/index.htm, accessed 18/02/2012).

42 These are the two countries represented in my sample of domestic workers.

43 Romania signed bilateral agreements with Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland. The OMFM also signed a partnership agreement to start an employment program of Romanian workers in catering, healthcare and the information and communications technology sector, in specific Italian regions including Friuli-Venezia-Giulia (Diminescu 2004: 67).

44 In 2010 the volume of remittances in Poland was estimated at 9.1 US billion dollars and in Romania at 4.5 US billion dollars (WB 2011).

45 Romaniszyn concurs with Cieślińska’s (1995) distinction between three periods of migration from Poland to Italy: “the ‘Solidarity’ wave of 1981-86; the refugee-economic wave of 1987-88; and the more extensive labour migration which began after 1989” (2000: 134).

46 By 2007 there were about 100,000 foreign sojourners from Poland in Italy, and more than half a million foreign sojourners from Romania (Caritas 2007; see also Cohen 2006:124).

47 Nevertheless, Italy signed a readmission agreement with Poland in 1991 (Chaloff 2004).

48 More recent literature on assimilation and on migrant entrepreneurship propose more nuanced insights (without, however, questioning ethnicity) on the issue of mobility. See, on assimilation, Alba 2005, Alba and Nee 1997, Portes et al. 2009, Rumbaut 1997, Zhou 1997, and on migrant entrepreneurship see the volume edited by Portes 1995 and Zhou 2007.

49 Italian television today is broadcasted throughout Europe, as well as in the Mediterranean basin (Rai Internationazionale, http://www.international.rai.it/diffusione/europa/index.shtml, accessed 6/02/2012).

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