Social Networks and Labour Market Access among Brazilian Migrants in Ireland

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This paper investigates migrant access to employment using concepts from Granovetter [1973. “The Strength of Weak Ties.” American Journal of Sociology 78 (6): 1360–1380; Granovetter, M. 1983. “The Strength of Weak Ties: A Network Theory Revisited.” Sociological Theory 1: 201–233] relating to ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ ties in networks and from Coleman [1988. “Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital.” American Journal of Sociology 94: 95–121] and Putnam [2000. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster] relating to the role of social capital in creating bonding and bridging relationships. Ethnographic research was conducted among Brazilian labour migrants in small towns in Ireland and returnees in Brazil who were recruited initially through an agent in the late 1990s to work in meat processing. Within a short time social networks began to assume importance in accessing employment, including family and friends, Brazilian ‘brokers’ and ‘non-pay Irish intermediaries’. Strong ties and bonding social capital were present within the migrant group, but weak ties and bridging social capital were also established which provided access to employment locally. These results provide further support for recent advice by Patulny and Svendsen [2007. “Exploring the Social Capital Grid: Bonding, Bridging, Qualitative, Quantitative.” International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 27 (1/2): 32–51] and Ryan[2011. “Migrants’ Social Networks and Weak Ties: Accessing Resources and Constructing Relationships Post-Migration.” The Sociological Review 59 (4): 707–724] that researchers should examine the ways in which social capital and resources are used in networks instead of assuming a simple dichotomy between the roles of different types of ties.

Source: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Vol. 41, Issue 14, 2015

Author(s):Garret Maher and Mary Cawley
Publisher:Taylor & Francis Online
Publication Date:14 Oct 2015
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