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The Intertwinement of Symbolic and Structural Violence: Migrant Agricultural Labourers in Two Regions of Southern Italy

Race Discrimination and Management of Ethnic Diversity and Migration at Work

ISBN: 978-1-78714-594-8, eISBN: 978-1-78714-593-1

ISSN: 2051-2333

Publication date: 28 August 2019

Abstract

This chapter deals with labour conditions and discrimination of migrant workers in Italy, with a particular focus on the agricultural sector in two Southern Italian areas: Northern Basilicata and Western Sicily. The first part of the chapter describes the history of migration to Italy and the most relevant transformations occurred over the last years, as well as an overview of the relevant legislation on migration and racial discrimination at work. The second part, on the basis of two ethnographic studies realized by the two authors, analyses the complex intertwinement of structural and symbolic violence in determining the conditions of exploitation and discrimination of migrant seasonal labourers in the two areas. The study focuses on three topics: piecework payment; the ghettoization and segregation of seasonal labourers; the system of informal and illegal labour intermediation called caporalato. It is argued that that the main source of symbolic violence is represented by the brokers called caporali, who are usually of the same nationality of the labourers. If, on a certain extent, migrant workers perceive their ghettoization, discrimination and exploitation as ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’, this is due to the communitarian relationships built and manipulated by the caporali. On the contrary, the State and the local administrations seem to act exclusively as a source of structural violence. The national legislation on migration, as well as the lack of public policies concerning labour intermediation, transport and accommodation for seasonal labourers, appears as the main reason of the vulnerability of migrant workers in the considered areas.

Keywords

Citation

Cascio, M.L. and Perrotta, D. (2019), "The Intertwinement of Symbolic and Structural Violence: Migrant Agricultural Labourers in Two Regions of Southern Italy ", Race Discrimination and Management of Ethnic Diversity and Migration at Work (International Perspectives on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 6), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 175-200. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2051-233320190000006009

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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