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Inequalities in the (de-)commodification of labour: immigration, the nation state, and labour market stratification

McGovern, Patrick ORCID: 0000-0003-3984-2080 (2012) Inequalities in the (de-)commodification of labour: immigration, the nation state, and labour market stratification. Sociology Compass, 6 (6). pp. 485-498. ISSN 1751-9020

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Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1751-9020.2012.00470.x


In an era when globalization has supposedly challenged the ability of the nation state to manage economic affairs, I shall argue that the state not only still matters but that it also plays a major role in processes of labour market stratification for migrant workers. Using the organizing concepts of commodification and de-commodification I review the growing comparative literature on government policies for economic migration to show how skill-based admissions policies, restrictions on freedom of employment, as well as differential access to social rights and citizenship generate durable forms of categorical inequality. What is perhaps unique about economic immigration is that these inequalities are underpinned by legislation and, in the case of the highly skilled, requirements for formal certification. The paper concludes by calling for further research within this rapidly growing field to explain how these complex patterns of inequality have emerged and whether they extend beyond the small number of cases that have been examined repeatedly in the existing literature.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2012 12:17
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2024 02:48

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