Austerity in the Baltic States
On Wednesday the 8th of May Arunas Juskas, Charles Woolfson (REMESO) and Jeffrey Sommers arranged a seminar under the heading “Contradictions of Austerity: Migration and The Socio-Economic Costs of the Neoliberal Baltic Model”.
Arunas Juska is a visiting researcher otherwise at University of East Carolina (US) and Jeffrey Sommers had come from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (US) to give a presentation and participate in work meetings. The three of them - together with Indre genelyte PhD (REMESO) Dr Karolis Zibas and his colleague Vita Petrusauskaite – have an on-going research cooperation on the economic transitions and crises in the Baltic countries.
Juska started the seminar with a presentation of his and Woolfson’s paper “The bifurcation of the Lithuanian labour market under the impact of crisis: The creation of a new austeriat”. In this paper they argue that austerity policies adopted in the Baltic states since early 2008 have accelerated the formation of dual labour markets of a character that is particular to these post-communist countries. With the example of Lithuania, they show that key factors behind the current crisis must be seen as reflective of the underdevelopment of the country’s economy, as well as its dependent and peripheral position within the European Union and the global economy. More specifically, harsh austerity policies combined with the effects of previous massive EU transfers have accelerated the fragmentation of the labour market that, in turn, have contributed to the further social and political fragmentation of the wider society—resulting into “two Lithuanias”—a process of societal disarticulation that is producing a new generation of “winners” and “losers”.
A result of this is that the decline of wages occurring in conditions of high levels of unemployment led to significant increase in poverty. If in 2008 27.2% of population was at risk to poverty, then by 2009 this number increased to 29.4%, and by 2011 reached 33.4% (Eurostat Newsrelease 2013; IQ.lt 2011). The banks actions, with cheap mortgage and flooding the market with credits is a factor that had a detrimental effect on the development. Juskas and Woolfson point also to the problem of massemigration. A phenomena often claimed to be a result of the EU membership, but as they can show, the wave of emigration actually decreased after the EU membership and must be explained by factors more directly linked to the unemployement rates, the dual labour market and the policies of austerity.
Jeffrey Sommers followed up with a presentation of his and Woolfson´s paper ‘‘Always Ready’: Austerity & Social (In)Security. Latvia’s Neoliberal Devolution’. In the Baltic States, he established, during the economic and financial crisis from 2008 onwards, some of the harshest austerity measures ever attempted by democratically elected governments have been adopted. The boldness and sweep of these measures has led to worldwide interest and indeed, admiration among ruling circles, both in Europe and the US who contemplate introducing the same.
Sommers asked what really exists behind the hagiographic accounts of the Baltic model of austerity management. And he added, the authors are trying to unravel the myth-in-the-making, namely, that radical austerity measures can be carried through at low demographic and political cost and with manageable levels of social disruption.
He warned that just as a radical shock therapy model of capitalism was exported eastwards in the ruins of the socialist bloc, so its contemporary reincarnation in the guise of austerity threatens to undermine not only the sustainability of the basic social fabric of countries that have been subject to these measures, but also the very foundation of the European project itself. What has transpired in the Baltic states is therefore of more than local interest.
For a quick glance at some of Sommers’ and Woolfsons’ main point on the matter, see Sommers response in a debate in Financial Time recently.
Vanja Petricevic, visting scholar at REMESO, will give a talk on "Assessment of Discrepancies in the European Union Compliance Proceedings" on Tuesday May 28.
REMESO is pleased to welcome Associate Professor Arunas Juska as a FAS-sponsored guest professor at REMESO for one month during this spring. Arunas works at the University of East Carolina, USA. He is originally from Lithuania, he moved to US in 1990.
Charles Woolfson gave a keynote speech: Migration, Austerity and New Challenges to Labour Markets in the Baltic/Nordic Region, at an expert seminar in Vilnius, organised by among others Global Utmaning.
Nandita Farhad is a graduate of the Masters course in IEI on Perspectives in Human Resource Management, Linköping University. She has published in the journal International Union Rights, with an upsetting timeliness in relation to the ongoing catastrophe.
In February a workshop was organised by Tema Genus and REMESO as a continuation of the much-appreciated workshop on intersectionality in the autumn 2012. This time, nine researchers and PhD students elaborated on theoretical or methodological perspectives on intersectionality.
An international conference was held at Zacatecas University, Mexico, 14-15 February, celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Critical Development Studies programme, University of Zacatecas. REMESO participated with several papers and in talks
Ricarda Drüeke is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Salzburg, Austria. She will be at REMESO during February. Her research interests are Gender Studies, online communication, and theories of the public sphere.
Susanne Urban, REMESO, has published an article in the leading Journal International Migration Review. She has studied compensation strategies among second-generation immigrants.
The REMESO Graduate School in Migration, Ethnicity and Society hav been successful in securing funding for the coming 3-4 years through a grant from FAS . Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research
In the Spring 2013 The REMESO Graduate School will offer two courses: "Theories and Politics of International Migration" and "Citizenship, Ethnic Division and Social Exclusion: National and Post-national Perspectives"
Professor Stefan Jonsson, REMESO, gives a PhD course in the Spring 2013: Empires & Ethnicities: Critical Problems in Social Theory and History Section 2, from Hannah Arendt to Gayatri Spivak
Istanbul is a gateway into Europe for refugees and asylum seekers, a transit city for thousands of migrants, who live under insecure conditions. A new dissertation at Malmö University and Linköping University in Sweden shows that social networks benefit transit migration. Established migrants both help and exploit new arrivals.
Charles Woolfson has been successful in obtaining a FAS ‘Excellence grant for visiting scientists’ on behalf of Professor Judy Fudge, Canada, to visit REMESO in January 2014 for a period of 6 months.
Anna Gavanas, REMESO, has received funding from FAS and VR for the study of Swedish retirees migrating to Spain, and interacting with care- and service providing labour migrants there.
In Journal of Common Market Studies (JCMS Vol 50, No 6) Peo Hansen and Stefan Jonsson, REMESO, discuss the imperial and colonial origins of the European Integration in a reply to Gary Marks who in a previous issue discussed EU and imperialism.
On december 7, an expert seminar was arranged by Global Challenge (Global Utmaning) in Stockholm. Prof. Charles Woolfson, REMESO, gave a keynote speach: "After the Crisis? Migration and New Challenges to Sustainability in the Baltic States"
The talk is now available on video.
Austere Histories: Social Exclusion and the Erasure of Colonial Memories in European Societies
28-29 november, at the Museum of Work in Norrköping.
This symposium asks how a current politics of austerity affects our cultural memory. Are we witnessing a turn toward austerity in theories and practices of historiography, as well as in pedagogies of history? Can we speak of an austere historiography, an enforcement of conformity on Europe past and present that is linked to the ongoing changes in social relations, for migrants and on the labour market?
Workshop in Istanbul:
Labour Rights as Human Rights - Migration, Citizenship and Mobilisation of Civil Society in Turkey and Sweden
April 13, 2013.
Labour Rights as Human Rights?
Migration, Labour Market Restructuring and the Role of Civil Society in Global Governance
UNESCO-MOST-conference, June, 2012, in Norrköping. Go to Conference web site
for exchange and information on Ethnicity and Migration research across LiU, Go to site
Recent Books and Articles
International Migration Review, Vol. 46, Issue 4, Winter 2012
The Confessing Society
Foucault, Confession and
Practices of Lifelong Learning
Andrea Fejes och Magnus Dahlstedt
Routledge 2012 (Forthcoming)
The Politics of European Citizenship - Deepening Contradictions in Social Rights & Migration Policy
Peo Hansen & Sandy Hager
European Perspectives on Exclusion
and Subordination: The Political Economy of Migration
A. Neergaard, (Ed.)
Narratives of Belonging: Homeland and Nationhood in Territorial and Non-territorial Settings
P. Lang 2009
From Victim Diaspora to Transborder Citizenship? Diaspora Formation and Transnational Relations
SafeSex, Unsafe Identities. Intersections of 'Race', Gender and Sexuality in Swedish HIV/AIDS Policy
Irregular Migration, Informal Labour and Community
Eds E. Berggren, B. Likic, G. Toksöz, N. Trimikliniotis (Eds.)
Migration, Citizenship and the European Welfare State.
C. Schierup, P. Hansen & S. Castles
Last updated: 2013-05-11