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Analyse and explain the changes in women’s migration within and into Europe since the mid-1970s. Illustrate your essay with specific examples.

This piece requires an analysis of women's migration in Europe during this period. In order to do this an analysis of the ways in which female migration has been recorded in this period must be carried out. Secondly, the increased role of economic reforms as a driving factor and women's position within it will seek to address the question. This will be followed by an examination of trafficking and such crimes, showing the role of the black economy at work. Fourthly, tensions related to non-white migration will be assessed. Finally, the view that family reunification was a factor in migrational change will be examined.

In 1991 the Annual Review of Sociology published a study on migration and gender and found a gap existed within the research. Looking at the period up until the 1970s, the publication commented, 'Despite the overwhelming presence of women in migration flows, until recently the role of women in migration has been totally neglected…the pervasive assumption being that the international migrant is young, economically motivated [and] male.' A contemporary study by Floria Anthia and Gabriella Lazeridis argued that before the pioneering research of the 1970s, 'Women were invisible in studies on migration and when they did emerge, tended to do so within the category of dependants on men. Eleanor Kofman believes that women were largely missed out of studies because of there lack of a definite economic position. Many started off at home in their family role, and as their husband or partner worked, they were neither registered in the system as being in work or as receiving benefits. She goes on to argue that in these cases the increased use of qualitative oral data has greatly changed our understanding of the issue, 'While quantative data can be useful for assessing the numerical significance of women in migratory streams the nature of the migration experience and the variations between different women is understood through the use of qualitative data.' In circumstances where first hand experiences are unavailable she argues that the increased prevalence of these issues as put forward in texts and the cinema, often by first generation children of immigrants have also changed our understanding. The pre eminent researcher in this field has been Yugoslav writer Mirjona Mororkvasic. She sought to change a situation in social research on migration in which she described, 'In the general theories of migration, migrants are usually seen as sex-less units.' Researching the experiences of women in this period she increasingly looked at the wider role of class, race and the economy in changing the role of Women and migration and challenged the over dependence on migration as a process of culture and change and the dominant view that, 'Migration per se does not account for major differences in the position of Women unless it is accompanied by changes in her reproductive role through family planning.' Most persuasively she sought to define the major change that had taken place, and linked this into why gender migration now warranted attention, '…but, migrant women acquired the right to a sociological existence once they were acknowledged as economically active, as productive.'

The largest factor in the change in women's migration since the mid 1970s has been the changing nature of the Western economy in Europe. In this period the economies of this region moved enmasse from heavy industry to the modern globalised service sector economies in which most of Europe lives today. As this change took place there was a shortage of people able, or more often prepared to take on these new jobs within the regional populace. The effect of this on gender and migration in this period is highlighted by Kofman, 'Women dominate some of these shortage sectors where local populations are unable to meet labour requirements such as domestic work, nursing and teaching.' In the 1970s it was noted that women were starting to match men in the numbers arriving in new European countries, 'the overall activity rates of migrants were higher than among the indigenous population and that this was particularly true among women.' This had an obvious impact on the nature of immigration, and its impact on the female immigrants. Morokvasic noted, 'Regardless of other drawbacks that residence in England had for Jamaican women, the chance to earn a regular wage has led to a dramatic improvement in their lives.' In gathering qualitative data from migrant communities in Britain she noticed that of the 29 Asian women she interviewed none had been previously employed, yet nine now worked. Equally, of thirty one West Indian respondents twenty nine had some form of work. The role of the European economy in changing female migration is further proved by the research of Anthia and Lazaridis. When assessing employment rates in modern western European countries they found that women supplied two thirds of all temporary and Part Time workers. Equally, their oral research found of the experiences of female migrant labour, 'Often their employers complain loudly of the presence of too many foreigners in their country on the one hand and yet happily employ a foreigner in their own home because they are so cheap.' This form of work accounts for the largest absorption of female migrant labour in Europe. The informal sector accounts for 35 per cent of Gross Domestic Product in Greece, and 25 per cent in Italy. Anthia and Lazeridis found that migrant women often worked in the lowest, most poorly paid and most uncertain sectors of the European labour market. They also see this change as having been forced by changing economies, 'Flexible forms of production have increased labour market segmentation along age, gender and ethnic lines and created niches for which inexpensive forms of labour are ideally suited.' Morokvasic has highlighted the lack of choice faced by migrant women, and the way in which this changed economy forces migration, 'While emigration may be an individualized act, it cannot be explained as a matter of individual motivation…the social constraints on the individual decision maker must not be ignored.' The process of centralizing employment and boom areas of the economy in several large cities within a country has also reduced the choice of those, who now need to be mobile in order to work. Therefore, despite the changing economic structure in this period in Europe, women face as little choice in being forced to move to the small number of economic boom centres, as they did in being stuck in the traditional home setting. Morokvasic cites Allen in concluding, 'Migration of Women to Britain has been largely a forced migration, both in terms of the structures of dependency and in terms of the economic and political relations between the third world and the Metropolitan centres.'

The period being examined has seen mass migration, the redefinition of national borders, and the collapse of whole systems. Therefore, some researchers into migration trends in this period conclude that economics do not wholly explain the changes that have taken place. These large migratory streams entering Western Europe from the Eastern states came about because of the collapse of the Soviet Union, whereby four million people migrated form East to West. Meanwhile, ethnic cleansing sent five million people fleeing across the border of Yugoslavia.  In these cases it is obvious that plain economics do not sufficiently explain all changes in migration. For example, post Soviet migration saw many educated intellectuals flee from the old eastern bloc. Equally, in a period of mass national redrawing many moved countries for personal reasons. Eleanor Kofman sees the reunification of disparate families as a major contributing factor to the changes in European migration, 'Men formed the majority of immigrants to Europe in the post war period of reconstruction…in the past two decades women have migrated to join men now resident in Europe, and family reunification remains the major reason.' Indeed the fleeing of refugees and the exodus from post-Soviet Russia saw Hungary and Romania surprisingly near to the top of host countries for migrants Monica Boyd corroborates this new view of female migration. She argues that twenty five years ago the major reasoning for migration was the pull of work in industrial societies and that using economics to explain migration in Europe in outdated, 'Such movement was also consistent with the prevailing theoretical approaches which stressed the movements of people as responses to push and pull forces in places of origin and destination…Similarly in Europe the migration of family members, the majority being women and children, augments the early flow of male guest workers.' In Sweden the debate heightened over public resentment of immigration, with a stereotyping of Iraqi immigrants into the country and the issue of welfare dependency. In response the Government sought to curtail family reunification as it accounted for 30,000 of the 67,000 intake in that year, suggesting it is a change and does explain some migration. Undoubtedly, there have been many cases of family reunification, in the post Soviet era especially. However, family reunification does not satisfactorily explain migration trends, rather the motives or pull factors influencing the decision of that first family member that they are reunifying with is the real reason. For this reason, the case for this being a bigger factor than economics is unconvincing and naively treats the adoption of service sector and low pay jobs once in the host country as coincidence or adapting to host nation.

 Prior to the mid 1970s sociologists and social researchers had paid little attention to the study of gender in relation to migration, and therefore it went largely unnoticed. A major reason for this change was the increasing role of migrants in the economy. In this period the economies of most Western European countries changed significantly from heavy industries to service sector economies, in reaction to which women played a larger role in filling these newly created jobs. However, this sort of economy and this change in migration has created real exploitation, both in the legal but low paid sector, and in illegal trafficking, and undocumented workers. Furthermore, in arguments over the headscarf, or an increasing attitude of 'fortress Europe' women have been in the forefront of debates over non-European migrant identities. Mass changes in the landscape of Europe, such as the fall of Soviet Communism, and ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia also caused mass relocation, prompting many women migrants in this period to move in seeking family reunification. However, in the final analysis, it can be said that the catalyst of the changes in women's migration in Europe since the mid-1970s has been preponderance in Europe of service sector reliant economies.

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