A multidisciplinary group of migration researchers from Leiden University is organising a two-day conference on
Niches, ethnicity and gender
The meeting will be open to academics from a range of disciplines, including sociology, history, international relations and criminology. It will be held in Leiden, the Netherlands June 17 – 18, 2004.
Objective of the conference:
The objective of the conference is to deepen the understanding of racial/ethnic and gender inequalities, by combining insights into two phenomena: niche formation among immigrants, and gendered labour market segregation. Both issues rank high on contemporary research agendas, but they have been treated so far rather separately. Niche formation has mainly been associated with self-employment of immigrants, labour market segregation with women and the wage labour market. Niche formation has often, although not exclusively, been evaluated positively, labour market segregation has been viewed more negatively. Despite separate research traditions, there appear to be much more similarities in the underlying processes and explanations than we find in the literature. Furthermore, little attention has so far been paid to the role of gender in niche formation.
Niche formation is a phenomenon that frequently occurs in connection to migration. How niches develop, depends on characteristics of the sector, on the opportunity structure of the receiving society and on the nature of the migration process. On the one hand, niche formation is in the literature rarely related to gender issues, although it is clear that both in societies at large, and within niches or enclaves themselves, systems of social closure, exclusion, and control foster inequality based on both gender and ethnicity. On the other hand, the vast and growing literature on labour market segregation is mainly concerned with gender.
The explanations given for the labour market segregation in part overlap with the explanations of niche formation among immigrants: systematic discrimination; opportunistic choices made by immigrants and women; turnover and labour costs; and physical or innate characteristics of women or immigrants. Despite similarities in the explanations, very little research has been done so far, which integrates the two lines of research in a systematic way.
The organisers of the conference invite speakers to systematically integrate the studies of niche formation and of labour market segregation. Historical, international and inter-group comparisons are welcomed. Leading questions are:
To what extent do the processes that funnel immigrants, and men and women into certain niches or segments of the formal and informal labour market differ and to what extend are they similar?
How do ethnicity and gender interact in the process of niche formation?
To what extent can segregation based on gender be observed within niches and how does this relate to the persistence of niche formation?
Papers and registration:
The conference will consist of a two-day plenary session with a maximum of 40 participants. Speakers are invited to send a title and short abstract (max. 400 words) to the address below, preferably by email. Papers are selected through a review process giving priority to original and integrative papers. Full-length papers will be distributed before the conference. The deadline for paper proposals is 15 December 2003. Information about paper acceptance: ultimo January 2004. Registration will be free. We expect that some additional funding will be available to cover some of the travel and accommodation costs. The aim is to publish selected papers as a special issue of a relevant journal.
Organising committee from Leiden University: Dr. Marlou Schrover (History), Dr. Chris Quispel (History), Dr. Gamze Avci (Faculty of Arts) and Dr. Joanne van der Leun (Faculty of Law).
Dr. Marlou Schrover
Department of History
P.O. Box 9515
NL- 2300 RA Leiden
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