Migrants’ Life Strategies and Opportunity Structures: Focus on post-Independence Ukrainian Labour Market

Olga Oleinikova


Significant scale and innovative character, diversity and unexpectedness of life collisions depict the current nature of transnational labor migration from post-Soviet Eastern Europe to the ‘developed’ West. The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between the life strategy and its realization via international migration in the first decade of the 21st century, based primarily on study of Ukrainian labor migration to Italy and Poland. More specifically, the emphasis is on the migrants’ life strategies employed in shaping their individual life paths in the recipient countries, while concurrently dealing with the current uncertainties of societal post-Soviet transformations within their homeland. The paper discusses the bifurcation of post-independent Ukrainian migrants into two opposing life strategies: (1) dynamic, risk-taking and future-oriented ‘achievement strategies’ and (2) conservative, risk-minimizing and survival-oriented ‘survival strategies’. The discourse analysis of transcribed interviews with 37 respondents revealed that the majority of the migrants interviewed implement achievement strategies rather than survival, though most framed ‘achievement’ in terms of the accomplishment of individual goals. This article takes stock of what is known about labor migrants’ life strategies that are determined and framed by the level of ancestral homeland development.


Transnational Migration, Italy, The Life Strategy Perspective

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13136/isr.v5i3.112

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