‘It Could Have Been Me’: Cultural Sensitivity and Social Workers’ Identification With Migrant Clients Who Resemble Themselves
University of Stavanger, Norway
In debates on multicultural social work, cultural sensitivity is center stage. Researchers emphasise professionals’ training in cultural competence as important tools of providing equal services. Additionally, the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV), has implemented cultural sensitivity in its counselling policy to improve services for immigrant clients. Cultural sensitivity refers to professionals adopting an introspective approach to cultural issues. However, how other aspects of the background, social position and emotional registers of the professionals come into play in their day-to-day work have received limited attention. Social workers’ ability to reflect on issues such as regulation of emotions in encounters with clients, as well as being conscious about one’s own cultural background, are part and parcel of their educational training. However, the impact of such emotions and personal identification on professional practice has not been studied through ethnographic accounts. We depart from ethnographic fieldwork at a front-line NAV-office, in addition to nine in-depth interviews of caseworkers of other offices. We investigate the salience of perceived intimacy and identification on social workers’ perception of a client or case and ask whether such cases increase the motivation of social workers. What are the implications for case proceedings that social workers sometimes identify themselves closely with the migrant client – because of class similarity, educational backgrounds, shared life-stage (e.g. parenthood)? Are social workers less inclined to take on cases with clients with whom they feel less immediate intimacy? Findings suggest the relevance of symbolic boundaries and emotional labour in the work of welfare professionals.
Affective Aspects of the Transnational Migration from Central Asia in Russia
Institute of Sociology of the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The Russian Federation is among of the top five countries receiving migrants, much of which is migrants from the Central Asia. Their main goal is to improve their personal life and well-being of their family at home. However nowadays migration is a multifaceted phenomenon involving various transnational links and practices, the circulation between countries not only of people, but also of various social and economic activities, ideas and symbols, elements of material culture, as well as various desires and expectations. This means that a deep understanding of migration cannot be limited to approaching it as a predominantly mechanical movement between countries due only to rational reasons. A moving person turns out to be not just in a new country, but in a new life situation, which is characterized by a multitude of new circumstances and statuses. These new contexts and social interactions generate new emotions.
In this regard, I will make an attempt to show the emotional experiences that accompany transnational migration on example of the migration from the Central Asia in Russia. What emotions migrants experience? What emotions are associated with migration experience? What contexts of migration experience evoke positive and what negative emotions? What role do emotional experiences play not only in the life of migrants, but also in the lives of their families at home, etc.? According to our preliminary analysis, the main characteristic of the migrant's emotions is that they perceive themselves not as an equal participant in social interaction, but as an object; lose their subjectivity.
Love as Means of Reproduction
University of Helsinki, Finland
Research literature on value production in contemporary capitalism identifies a shift in the character of the production of value, with affective labour regarded as one of the most important instruments for value production. Affective labour literature emphasises that the line between labour and emotions is often blurred. Furthermore, this theoretical literature often interprets care and domestic work as a primary example of affective labour. There is, however, a need to specify how the affective value production occurs in care and domestic work. Through an analysis of care and domestic work as affective labour, this article analyses the connections between value and affect. Drawing on interviews with migrant care and domestic workers in Finland (N=20), I ask in what ways the informants identify love as the most important tool in their work, either as love for their work, or love for those who they are caring for. I approach love as an affect that is closely connected to the informants’ migratory experiences, the postcolonial context and the legally insecure position the workers hold in Finland, and to the nature of reproductive work. Firstly, I bring forth the ways in which the affect love is produced as a work skill in affective labour. Secondly, I analyse the intimate connections between the affect love, the colonial context and the social relations of value. In conclusion, I propose conceptualising affects such as love as a part of the use-value of labour-power and as means of reproduction.