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Charles Woolfson

Professor Emeritus

charles.woolfson@liu.se

Link to LiU-page

Finished projects

Lost in Mobility?

Indre Genelyte, PhD student & Branka Likic-Brboric, Associate Professor (biträdande professor)

This thesis seeks to make both theoretical and empirical contributions to the understanding of intra-EU mobility, with a focus on labour migration from Lithuania to Sweden. The thesis aims to help to explain...
This thesis seeks to make both theoretical and empirical contributions to the understanding of intra-EU mobility, with a focus on labour migration from Lithuania to Sweden. The thesis aims to help to explain the dynamics and individual decision-making behind mass labour emigration from the Baltic states, its socioeconomic consequences and policy responses.
The dissertation shows that the consequences of the neoliberal policies of the post-communist and post-crisis transformations, together with the construction of formal migration channels after EU accession, constitute various migrant categories. Individual strategies of actively looking for channels to exit and enter, combining them in different ways at various points of the migratory process and establishing informal social networks are re-constituting who can be and who is a migrant. Furthermore, following the economic crisis and austerity measures, the decision to emigrate extends beyond individual survival strategies, instead becoming bound to an individual’s perception of the (ine)quality of life and pursuit of a better quality of life for oneself and one’s family across time and in different places.


Informal economy

Zoran Slavnic, Associate Professor (biträdande professor)

The aim of this project is to critically review the actual concepts on informal economy, and its relation to structural changes of the labour market, and migration. The project also has an ambition to...
The aim of this project is to critically review the actual concepts on informal economy, and its relation to structural changes of the labour market, and migration. The project also has an ambition to highlight the borderline between formal and informal economy, and to develop a theoretical framework, suitable for empirical research on informal economy in its relation to the re-commodification of labour and migration.

The quest for 'fair globalization' and a 'decent work agenda'

Branka Likic-Brboric, Associate Professor (biträdande professor)

The research in this project critically analyses the on-going configuration of global and regional migration regimes within the framework of multilevel global governance. The main objective is to survey...
The research in this project critically analyses the on-going configuration of global and regional migration regimes within the framework of multilevel global governance. The main objective is to survey international institutional arrangements for core labor standards and migrant workers? rights and to explore their significance for migration management within the 'asymmetric' global governance, as well as their impact on the current trajectory of global and regional political economies. Various studies within the project trace the development of a 'social dimension' of globalization and the articulation of an inclusive, human rights-based policy approach to migration management. The focus is on the ILO?s reformulation of social justice goals in terms of 'decent work' for all workers, including especially those working in the informal economy. The identification of the main multinational, state and non-state actors, their discourses and strategies for the promotion of global social justice, in particular the role of the EU is examined. Since 2010 participants in this project have followed and analysed the UN High Level Dialogue on Migration, related Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) and the role of global civil society actors in this process, leading to MIGLINK, a collaborative research project with Ankara University (Turkey) and University of Zacatecas Mexico).

Seasonal Migrant Workers in Sweden

Nedzad Mesic, Postdoc & Charles Woolfson, Professor Emeritus

Seasonal Migrant Workers in Sweden: Contingents of the new austeriat

In the current era of austerity free movement of labour has produced an ongoing but also contingent flow of migrant labour, an austeriat,...
Seasonal Migrant Workers in Sweden: Contingents of the new austeriat

In the current era of austerity free movement of labour has produced an ongoing but also contingent flow of migrant labour, an austeriat, moving from poorer crisis-hit regions of Europe to those countries such as Sweden where the crisis has been less severe. This project describes the working and living experiences of Bulgarian Roma berry pickers in Sweden. It argues that, in the context of a previously well-regulated labour market, an erosion of labour standards based on the exploitation of seasonal unskilled labour migrants from Bulgaria is occurring in the Swedish berry industry, in turn posing challenges for labour market actors and regulatory authorities. The examines what might be appropriate European and national trade union responses and those of civil society to the issues of labour precariousness which have emerged.

Migrant precariat and the frames of solidarity

Nedzad Mesic, Postdoc & Magnus Dahlstedt, Professor

The project deals with the relations between social movements, trade unions and disadvantaged groups of migrant workers on the labour market. These groups could also be denominated as the precariat. More...
The project deals with the relations between social movements, trade unions and disadvantaged groups of migrant workers on the labour market. These groups could also be denominated as the precariat. More specifically the focus is set on irregular immigrants, discriminated workers and seasonal guest workers. The primary target for the project is to explore the ways actors in the civil society manage to build supportive relations to these groups of workers and other organisations in the field. The project is guided by the overarching research question: What are the possibilities and constraints for civil society organisations to establish and maintain transversal relations with disadvantaged groups of migrant workers and their organisations? The task is thus, on the one hand, to investigate how trade unions take on these new challenges within their field and to explore: the new strategies developed by the trade unions; and their collaborations with new social movements organisations. On the other hand, the project centres on new social movements' collaborations with neighbouring actors, their articulations of the problems; and their strategies to provide solutions to the problems.

Trade union renewal and social dialogue in post-communism

Charles Woolfson, Professor Emeritus

This project continues a key theme of Charles Woolfson's European Commission Marie Curie Chair Excellence Award (2004-2007) in the Baltic states - social dialogue and trade union renewal in the post-communist...
This project continues a key theme of Charles Woolfson's European Commission Marie Curie Chair Excellence Award (2004-2007) in the Baltic states - social dialogue and trade union renewal in the post-communist states. The Baltic states are among the most open new market economies and their transformation from Soviet republics to new European Union member states reveals many of the problems of European integration, not least the development of employee representational rights in the workplaces. This project comparatively examines the reasons for the very low levels of union membership and the rather weak structures of social dialogue which exist both nationally, and at workplaces in the Baltic countries. Its key findings so far are that the difficulties facing trade union renewal have as much to do with the pathway of "illusory corporatism" pursued since independence from the Soviet Union, as with the actual negative legacy of pro-regime trade unions in the previous era.

East-West labour migration - Sweden and Baltics

Charles Woolfson, Professor Emeritus

The right for European Union (EU) citizens to move freely across national borders within the EU is considered one of the EUs fundamental four freedoms and is itself a form of response to the need for regional...
The right for European Union (EU) citizens to move freely across national borders within the EU is considered one of the EUs fundamental four freedoms and is itself a form of response to the need for regional competitiveness in the global economy. However, a possible downside of free movement is a purported downward gravitational effect on established labour standards in terms of wage levels, employment relationships and working environment conditions created by the growing availability of migrant labour originating from lower wage domains with inferior conditions and, at the same time, subject to exploitation in the labour process as vulnerable transnational workers. This project seeks an integrated theoretical and empirical approach in exploring the impact of East-West migration on the patterns of industrial relations, working environment, and welfare regimes from the point of view of both the sending and receiving countries within a regional migration complex, namely Sweden and the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Labour Migration, Crisis and Cohesion in Eastern Europe

Charles Woolfson, Professor Emeritus

This project focuses specifically on labour migration from the Baltic new member states in terms of challenges it offers to social cohesion and longer-term prospects for social development in the context...
This project focuses specifically on labour migration from the Baltic new member states in terms of challenges it offers to social cohesion and longer-term prospects for social development in the context of the continuing aftermath of economic recession and the global economic and financial crisis. The project analyses the intersection of global economic recession with the underlying crisis of neo-liberalism in a new European Union member state, Baltic Lithuania. It ethnographically charts the disappointment of expectations occasioned by the shock of crisis for the citizens of a post-communist society. Resulting social unrest and the fragmentation of social solidarities are depicted through an analysis of "voice", as expressed in "discourses of discontent". It is suggested that the failure of the political process to acknowledge these popular discourses, and the muting of popular political protest via increasingly repressive public order policing has led to an outward "exit" of labor migration on an unprecedented scale, as well as the concerning possibility of "internal exit" in the form of xenophobia, populism and racism.

Labour Standards in the new EU member states

Charles Woolfson, Professor Emeritus

This project continues a key theme of Charles Woolfson:s European Commission Marie Curie Chair Excellence Award (2004-2007) in the Baltic states i.e., labour standards, decent work in the form of regularised...
This project continues a key theme of Charles Woolfson:s European Commission Marie Curie Chair Excellence Award (2004-2007) in the Baltic states i.e., labour standards, decent work in the form of regularised employment relations, access to training, and the character of the working environment in terms of occupational health and safety in the post-communist states. It explores the difficulties in securing regulated labour standards, as against ongoing counter-tendencies towards the informalisation of employment relations. It also asks how these labour standards are changing in the context of European Union enlargement and what empirical evidence there is of the integrative impacts of European directives and regulations on working life and work environment in the new member states ie., convergence or divergence.

Posted Workers Employment Rights (PostER)

Charles Woolfson, Professor Emeritus

The collaborative PostER project funded by European Commission DG Employment examines the working and living conditions of posted workers in several key sectors to which workers are frequently posted between...
The collaborative PostER project funded by European Commission DG Employment examines the working and living conditions of posted workers in several key sectors to which workers are frequently posted between countries. Little is known of the actual experience of posted workers. Using academic researchers in five EU member states, PostER will gather and disseminate information on national practices related to posted workers? knowledge of employment rights and their enforcement, on the extent of the provision of information to stakeholders and on the potential application of sanctions. PostER focuses on posted workers in Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden and the UK. It uses varied methodologies including desk research and interviews with 60 posted workers and 25 stakeholders (including social partners and enforcement agencies). Photographic evidence on workplaces using posted workers will be collected for display on the project website and in the report. PostER will conclude with the launch of a final report at a conference for stakeholders from the five countries and from European agencies.

Forced Labour in Sweden: The case of migrant berry pickers

Charles Woolfson, Professor Emeritus

This project is part of a comparative international study commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, UK, and led by the Working Lives Research Institute of London Metropolitan University. It involves...
This project is part of a comparative international study commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, UK, and led by the Working Lives Research Institute of London Metropolitan University. It involves researchers in a number of European countries including UK, France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Latvia, Poland, Spain and Sweden. The project examines in each, the forms and extent of forced labour, the legislative and policy contexts, and opportunities for those subject to forced labour to seek redress through the civil or criminal law, local authorities or government agencies, NGOs, trade unions or other civil society actors. Case studies are illustrated with examples of good or innovative practice in securing redress.




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Last updated: 2020-05-27