Migrants to rural areas as a social movement: insights from Italy

Giorgio Osti


Migrants in Italy often form the majority of the labour force in the primary sector; their residential and work conditions are generally of low quality, and their entrepreneurship is limited. How are the presence and action of migrants in Italian rural areas to be interpreted? The question is tackled with a framework based on the social movements literature. The mobilisation of migrants is seen as a way to enter the political arena when traditional channels are closed. Even heterodox participation is considered a sign of integration in a country. Cases of mobilisation are presented in order to show the robustness of the research perspective. The results are that migrants ‘collective action’ is rare and weak, especially in the primary sector because of gangmaster action, temporary and dispersed jobs, obtuseness of employers. Moreover, the advocacy coalition supporting migrants is unable to overcome the logic of emergency. The paper ends by wondering whether the sporadic mobilisation of migrants will lead to a moral economy of the agrifood value chain.


migrants; agriculture; workforce; Italy; social movement

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/BAE-23339

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