MIGRANT WELFARE TACTICS AND TRANSNATIONAL SOCIAL PROTECTION BETWEEN PORTUGAL AND THE UK

  • Bruno Machado Centro de Estudos Geográficos, Instituto de Geografia e Ordenamento do Território, Universidade de Lisboa
  • Jennifer McGarrigle Centro de Estudos Geográficos, Instituto de Geografia e Ordenamento do Território, Universidade de Lisboa
  • Maria Lucinda Fonseca Centro de Estudos Geográficos, Instituto de Geografia e Ordenamento do Território, Universidade de Lisboa
  • Alina Esteves Centro de Estudos Geográficos, Instituto de Geografia e Ordenamento do Território, Universidade de Lisboa

Resumo

Migration and the sustainability of the welfare state are irrefutably two essential topics in the political debate throughout Europe. Not only has the dominant pattern within the political discourse been focused on the generosity of benefits attracting migrants as, until recently, researchers tended to concentrate on the supposed “weight” of migration on destination countries. This view contrasts with new perspectives that highlight not only the levels of unawareness regarding benefits or social services in the destination countries as well as transnational practices involving a myriad of formal and informal providers across borders. Drawing on qualitative data gathered through 52 interviews conducted with British migrants in Portugal, Portuguese migrants in the UK and returned migrants from the UK to Portugal, we explore migrants’ perspectives, lived experiences and strategies focusing on social protection – particularly pensions and unemployment benefits – and public services – namely education and health. We argue that, notwithstanding EU’s regulations regarding social rights, there is a chasm between de jure and de facto social policies, which lead to complex and often creative social protection strategies by migrants. Local social capital and the process of learning how to use the welfare system are key aspects in gaining access to welfare in the destination. Moreover, we demonstrate how transnational practices are a key tactic to overcome pitfalls of formal services, by balancing the two social protection systems with strategies developed in-between places. The results point to an element of happenstance deeply impacting on these individuals’ strategies and trajectories.

Publicado
2019-12-20
Secção
Artigos