Mobilitat, informalitat i xarxes en camps socials transnacionals

Supervised by:
  1. Miranda J. Lubbers Director
  2. José Luis Molina González Co-director

Defence university: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Fecha de defensa: 08 April 2021

  1. Silvia Marcu Chair
  2. Hugo Valenzuela García Secretary
  3. Kristín Loftsdóttir Committee member

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 754272 DIALNET lock_openTDX editor


This thesis analyses the processes and practices that lead to the formation of transnational social fields (TSFs) and the related emergence of immigrant enclaves within the EU. Specifically, the thesis investigates the (im)mobilities and informal practices that Romanian migrants in Spain use to cope with the constraints of changing mobility regimes and the struggles of their day-to-day lives. Based on long-term multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork and social network analysis, the research focuses on two demographic enclaves of Romanians in Spain, located respectively in Castelló de la Plana and Roquetas de Mar, both of which are connected socially with the main regions of the immigrants’ origins in Romania, respectively Dâmboviţa and Bistriţa-Năsăud. Supported by their networks, and attracted by the formal and informal labour markets, Romanian migrants in Spain grew from a few thousands in 1998 to nearly 900,000 in 2012. They are concentrated in specific geographical locations, creating demographic enclaves – i.e., concentrations of migrants from a given origin in a particular destination – connected with their areas of origin through TSFs, which facilitate the retention of transnational connections with Romania while enabling their settlement in this new social, cultural, economic, and political context. In this case, migrants’ arrivals were smoothed by labour markets in flourishing industrial districts, such as the ceramic industry in Castelló de la Plana and agribusiness in Roquetas de Mar, which provided employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, as well as formal and informal forms of work. The findings reported in this thesis show how migrants in these transnational contexts used informal practices and (im)mobilities to bypass and contest the unequal situations that exclude them from formal access to services, work, and opportunities. Their adaptation to their new living situations happens through two parallel processes: informalisation and formalisation. On the one hand, the informalisation process entails learning the unwritten rules, and selecting, preserving, and adjusting known informal practices to the new context, while abandoning others – mostly harmful, illicit, or illegal practices. On the other hand, the formalisation process involves learning the formal rules and adapting practices to legal pluralism, e.g., customary laws or religious laws; bureaucratic regularization e.g., residence and work permits; and the Romanian institutions that support transnational ways of life, e.g., churches, consulates, associations, or businesses. Going beyond the understanding of migration as an aggregate of individual decisions, this thesis advances our knowledge of the livelihood strategies that low-wage EU-internal migrants adopt in order to make a living. Understanding how informal practices and (im)mobilities are deployed by migrants at various transnational scales facilitates examining the social, economic, and political effects of the principles of free circulation and European integration that are producing social changes that will last for generations to come.