LEST – Université d’Aix-Marseille, France
Delphine Mercier is researcher at the CNRS, sociologist of work at the Institute of labour Economics and Industrial Sociology (LEST-UMR7317). Her research interests are sociology of work, borders and free trade zones, sociology of migration and sociology of globalization. Between 2011 and 2015, she coordinated two broad research projects on the making of migrations in a crossed perspective between Mexico/Central America, North Africa/Europe and the Middle East. Since 2010, she is the head of the Research Committee in Sociology of Work (RC30) of the International Sociology Association.
Refugees or labour migration are often analysed only as a problem and a cost to the host country. Yet, these forced or voluntary circulations produce economic dynamics at the local level, from which the host countries, especially the settling communities, directly benefit. The relocation of entrepreneurial or industrial activities, as in the province of Mersin in southern Turkey – that has received according to the Centre for Middle East Strategic Studies $ 4 billion of investments led by recently settled Syrians – boosts the economy of the host country and opens up new export segments. Most of the international financing, or financial resources mobilized by NGOs to provide assistance to refugees are invested locally. Moreover, the arrival of a skilled workforce often contributes to the modernization of host regions, and non-qualified labour participates in the development of the informal sector and competitiveness of a number of activities by lowering labour cost.
In fact, the influx of refugees or voluntary migrants has an impact on the local economic sector and the labour market but it is also a source of tension: between the refugees themselves, those traveling with their economic resources (commerce, business, finance), those traveling only with their knowhow (the skilled ones) and those who can only offer their help (the unskilled ones); between the more recent and the oldest refugees (eg. between long-term settled Palestinians and Syrians); and between refugees and local populations.
Thus the arrival of refugees has consequences in terms of new segmentation of the labour market, new social hierarchy, including loss of social standing and social resettlement, and increasingly strong economic interdependence of the populations at a local level. In the context of the Lajeh research project, the LEST researchers will focus on the labour market and local economic dynamics produced by the mass influx of Syrian refugees in the province of Mersin in southern Turkey and within the Lebanese capital where former settled refugees rub shoulders with newcomers, who are sometimes of the same original nationality.
labour migration, labour market, relocation, segmentation, entrepreneurial/ industrial activities