DFG Project

The Meaning of Time in Negotiations over Work and Migration. A Qualitative Analysis of Work-Related Conflicts in Sectors shaped by Migration

Project duration: 01.02.2023 - 01.02.2026

Project staff: Dr. Maren Kirchhoff

This research focuses on the migration-labour nexus from a time and conflict theory perspective. It aims at analyzing negotiations over working conditions and environments in specific sectors which are particularly characterised by labour migration and precarious employment. Current debates in migration research point out that migration cannot be described as a linear and completed process. Recently, attention has also been drawn to the relevance of the (assumed) temporariness of migration and the temporal dimension in general. Also, labour policies, industry-specific operational structures, and management techniques have a temporal component that influences conflicts in and around work.

At the interface of labour studies and migration research, the research project focuses on the meaning of the temporal dimension of work and migration and its relevance for the potentially conflictual negotiations about working conditions in selected industries characterised by precarious employment relationships. Specifically, the project examines the role of individual and collective time horizons of employees in the elderly care, construction, and cleaning industries from multiple perspectives within the framework of a qualitative research design. With the help of qualitative expert interviews, document analyses and focused ethnographic observations, an overview of central developments and dynamics in the respective sectors will be provided. Based on this, guided individual interviews and group discussions with employees in these industries will be conducted. The project on the one hand contributes to the state of research on precarious work, flexibilization and labour policies with regard to the selected industries and to the debate on the role of labour policies in migration regimes on the other hand. In contrast to existing research, however, the focus does not lie on (national) migration and labour policies or long-term processes of labour market integration, but rather on the concrete design of working conditions and conflicts over them at the company level. By asking how temporal orders and individual time horizons of employees with and without migration experience influence negotiations about working conditions, the project also contributes to the socio-theoretical discussion about the relevance of the temporal dimensions in conflicts.