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Embodying the 'good' migrant: the imagination and production of the ideal Latvian worker

6th December 2011 12:30pm, Ladywell House, room 1/G/9

David McCollum, University of St Andrews

Powerful actors such as employers, recruitment agencies and policymakers exert considerable influence on the nature of labour migration flows. This paper focuses on the characteristics that these actors judge to constitute the ideal migrant worker and how these interpretations shape the recruitment practices that collectively form the observable patterns of labour migration flows. The focus of this analysis is on Latvia, a country that has experienced a dramatic recent turnaround in its economic fortunes and that now has a very high emigration rate. The findings suggest that employers, recruitment agencies and policymakers hold precise expectations of who and what the ideal migrant worker is. These imaginings shape the decisions made about the types of workers that are sought after and the recruitment strategies that are used to source them. These results are of theoretical significance as they shed light on how international labour migration flows are structured by powerful actorsí recruitment practices, which in turn are determined by their conceptions of the ideal (migrant) worker.