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Underground Work, Immigrants and Networks: Preliminary Findings from Italy

IJED, Vol. 6 No. 3, (2004)

This article exposes and tries to explain some preliminary findings from a research project, still in progress, on immigrant insertion into the underground economy in the agricultural, building and family care service sectors in Tuscany. Employing a network analysis approach it seeks to explain how immigrants, both documented and undocumented, get their jobs for Italian employers and the role that ethnic and non-ethnic networks play in providing information on vacancies, guarantees to employers and activating mechanisms of social control and sanctions against a worker. The finding is that although networks play an important role in providing information on vacancies, such networks play a less important role in providing guarantees for employers and as mechanisms for social control. This is explained in terms of both the characteristics of immigrant groups and their networks and the Italian underground economy more generally.

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