Ronaldo Munck, Carl-Ulrik Schiefup and Rail Delgado Wise (eds.)
Migration, Work and Citizenship in the New Global Order, Routledge: London, UK, 2012; 135 pp: 9780415683272, 85 [pounds sterling] (hbk)
The major themes in this edited volume centre on how migration within the era of the current crisis of neoliberal globalisation confronts the challenges of precarious work and precarious citizenship. These challenges are further exacerbated in the post-9/11 environment by the management and securitisation of migration and its accompanying discourses and practices. The authors in this volume all tend to agree that the securitisation of migration, with its inherent restrictions and impediments toward legal migration, have led to irregular migration.
On one hand, only one of the eight contributions in the book (Stephen Castles) utilises a Marxist analysis to examine contemporary migration focusing on, among other things, the relationship between irregular migration and the re-commodification of labour. The volume's paucity of Marxist theorising may be a drawback for many regular readers of Capital & Class. In fact, only two of the eight contributions in the book attempt to frame their arguments within a historical-materialist analysis. On the other hand, however, the overarching themes of precarious labour and precarious citizenship do offer rich contributions to both Marxist and non-Marxist theories of migration.
Castles stresses this point by arguing in his essay that migrants are not simply economic actors who follow income maximisation motives; but they are social beings capable of creating resistance to structural inequality and human insecurity via new forms of agency. While the volume does acknowledge that migrants comprise an exploitable 'reserve army of labour', the book attempts to move beyond this notion to incorporate the concept of citizenship.
It must be pointed out that the issue of citizenship has been a source of long-term contention within Marxist scholarship. Mary Dietz (1987) argued that the historical-materialist perspective, including Marxist feminism, has had very little to say on the issue of citizenship, and that most Marxists dismiss the issue of citizenship as a 'bourgeois conceit.' Furthermore, the issue of citizenship, if addressed at all, is conflated with labour and class struggle. Etienne Balibar, moreover, lamented that citizenship and the relationship to nationality were not objects of Marxist study, which in his...