What are your research topics?
I investigate migration, including refugee migration, as well as societal changes related to migration. I have been particularly interested in how the forms of inequality associated with migration, refugees, racialisation, and legal status affect people’s everyday lives, work, and living conditions.
I have also paid domestic work, nursing, and cleaning carried out by migrants in Finland and Italy. Currently I am heading a multidisciplinary research project that investigates precarious and informal work in the Nordic countries. This includes work carried out through digital platforms.
Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?
There are a lot of jobs in the labour market where migrants are overrepresented. More than half of the cleaners in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area have a foreign background. Migrants constitute a significant share of the workforce involved in service work carried out through digital platforms, such as food delivery services, which have become increasingly prevalent.
Combined with different forms of discrimination, the bureaucracy and delays associated with residence permits affect the everyday lives and labour market statuses of foreign workers. They also affect the possibilities of family reunification, in other words, the right to a family.
Our research produces information on diverse and new forms of inequality in society. The treatment of the most vulnerable members of society is an important measure of social justice.
What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?
Research on migration is multidisciplinary. It is conducted both from the perspective and according to the needs of public administration and from an independent critical research perspective by academic researchers.
I am pleased that we have received EU funding for a joint independent research project carried out in six countries. In the project, we will analyse the structural factors and societal processes that produce and maintain vulnerable working conditions and labour exploitation, as well as force migrants into irregular legal status.
Lena Näre is the Professor of Sociology, with an emphasis on Societal Structure and Social Change at the Faculty of Social Sciences.