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Hedberg, Charlotta
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Hedberg, C., Axelsson, L. & Abella, M. (2019). Thai berry pickers in Sweden: A migration corridor to a low-wage sector. Stockholm
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Thai berry pickers in Sweden: A migration corridor to a low-wage sector
2019 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Every year, around 5000 berry pickers travel from Thailand to Sweden to pick wild berries. This report describes the system and regulatory framework that surrounds the berry pickers, and analyses their costs and earnings. The report has a comparative approach, and compares the Thai berry pickers with other types of international labour migration and with their alternative earnings in Thailand. It also describes the workers demographic background and their use of the earnings from berry picking. The report is uniquely based on 165 standardized interviews with Thai berry pickers, which were performed in Thailand on behalf of this study. The main conclusion is that the costs surrounding berry picking are relatively high, as seen against the background of the short berry picking season and the time that the workers are spending in Sweden. On average, a berry picker pays around 4000 USD to work in Sweden for a period of 70 days. This means that, for the average worker, it takes 1,6 months to earn enough money to cover these costs, and thereafter remains only a limited time window to earn enough money to bring back to Thailand. Around 50 percent of the costs incurred are paid to Thai staffing agencies, and the other half is paid to Swedish berry companies as a daily fee for accommodation, food and access to a car. After the deduction of all costs, the average berry picker returns to Thailand with around 2000 USD from one season in Sweden. This figure is roughly three times that of what the average worker would normally earn in Thailand during the same amount of time. The worker with the highest net earnings from berry picking in Sweden, however, could make as much as 12 times more than what he or she would make in Thailand. The report also shows that the berry pickers, who often are men working as farmers in north-eastern Thailand where they also have their families, are travelling to Sweden repeatedly. A majority of the workers in the study had travelled to Sweden seven times or more, whereas the most frequent worker had travelled as much as 26 times. According to the study, there is no positive relationship between the frequency of work in Sweden and the size of vi the earnings. The earnings from berry picking are being used for daily consumption and investments in farming, housing and children’s’ education. In the report we discuss the motives behind the perpetuation of the migration system despite the relatively high costs. One explanation could be that the workers are being paid on a piece rate, meaning that they are aspiring, and believing that they can achieve, the same high earnings as the most successful workers. However, the payment system also implies that the workers are at high risk, since almost 50 percent note that they have earned less than the guaranteed wage that they are entitled to according to Swedish collective agreements. Another reason why berry pickers travel to Sweden repeatedly could be that it’s associated with relatively low social costs. The berry season in Sweden occurs at a suitable time in the Thai growing season, and the berry pickers are spending a relatively short time away from their families. The system surrounding berry picking can be seen both as it’s solution and it’s problem. On the one hand, Thai staffing agencies and Swedish berry companies are providing the infrastructure that sustains the system across time, thus enabling the workers to invest in their children’s futures, etc. On the other hand, the report shows a lack of transparency in relation to the costs, which might be excessive, while the costs and risks are put on the individual worker. The practice of using staffing agencies has been enacted as a way to avoid taxes and social responsibility in Sweden. As an alternative, it is possible that experienced berry pickers could use their own social networks to travel to Sweden, while starting up a cooperative and in that way, reduce the costs.

Abstract [sv]

Årligen reser omkring 5000 bärplockare från Thailand till Sverige för att plocka vilda bär. Den här rapporten beskriver det system och regelverk som bärplockarna reser inom, samt analyserar deras kostnader och intäkter. Rapporten har ett jämförande anspråk, och jämför de thailändska bärplockarna med andra typer av internationell arbetskraftsmigration samt med alternativa inkomster i Thailand. Den redogör också för bärplockarnas demografiska bakgrund samt för deras användning av inkomsterna från bärplockningen. Rapporten är baserad på ett unikt enkätmaterial bestående av 165 standardiserade intervjuer med thailändska bärplockare, som genomfördes i Thailand för denna studies räkning. Rapporten bygger även på kunskap från tidigare intervjustudier med bärplockare, representanter från bärbranschen samt beslutsfattare i Sverige och Thailand. Rapportens slutsats är att kostnaderna kring bärplockningen är relativt höga, sett till den korta tid som bärplockarna spenderar i Sverige. I genomsnitt betalar en bärplockare cirka 33 000 kronor i fasta kostnader för att arbeta under 70 dagar i Sverige. För den genomsnittlige bärplockaren från Thailand krävs det 1,6 månader för att tjäna ihop till denna summa, och därefter återstår endast ett begränsat tidsfönster för att tjäna ihop pengar att ta med sig tillbaka till Thailand. Cirka hälften av de fasta kostnaderna betalas till thailändska bemanningsföretag och den andra hälften betalas till svenska bärföretagare som en daglig avgift för boende, mat och tillgång till bil. Efter att alla kostnader har dragits av tjänar den genomsnittliga bärplockaren cirka 17 000 kronor under en säsong. Detta innebär att de tjänar ungefär tre gånger mer under en säsong i Sverige än vad de normalt sett tjänar i Thailand, medan den arbetare som tjänade mest kunde inbringa hela 12 gånger mer. Rapporten visar också att bärplockarna, som ofta är män som arbetar inom jordbrukssektorn i nordöstra Thailand där de också har sin familj, reser till Sverige vid upprepade tillfällen. En majoritet av bärplockarna i studien har rest sju gånger till Sverige eller mer, medan den mest frekvente arbetaren hade rest hela 26 gånger. viii Enligt studien finns emellertid inget positivt samband mellan antalet gånger man har arbetat i Sverige och inkomstens storlek. Inkomsterna som bärplockarna får av sitt arbete i Sverige används till såväl daglig konsumtion som investeringar i jordbruk, bostäder och barnens utbildning. I rapporten resonerar vi kring vilka drivkrafter som kan ligga till grund för att systemet upprätthålls trots relativt höga kostnader. En förklaring kan vara att betalningen sker i form av ett ackordsystem, vilket innebär att arbetarna arbetar i tron om att det är möjligt att uppbringa så stor inkomst som de allra mest framgångsrika plockarna. Samtidigt innebär detta att arbetarna tar stora risker, eftersom nästan hälften av arbetarna uppger att de tjänat mindre än den grundlön de har rätt till enligt svenska kollektivavtal. En annan orsak till att bärplockare vid upprepade tillfällen åker till Sverige kan vara att det är förknippat med relativt låga sociala kostnader. Bärsäsongen i Sverige infaller vid en lämplig tidpunkt i det thailändska odlingsåret, och bärplockaren spenderar relativt kort tid borta från sin familj. Det system som kringgärdar bärplockningen kan ses som både dess möjlighet och dess problem. Å ena sidan utgör thailändska bemanningsföretag och svenska bärföretag den infrastruktur som upprätthåller systemet över tid, och gör det möjligt för bärplockarna att exempelvis investera i sina barns utbildning. Å den andra sidan visar rapporten att det saknas transparens kring om kostnaderna är skäliga, samt att kostnader och risker läggs på den individuella arbetaren. Användandet av thailändska bemanningsföretag har utarbetats som ett sätt att undvika arbetsgivaransvar och skatt i Sverige. Det är möjligt att arbetare med stor erfarenhet av bärplockning istället skulle kunna använda sig av egna sociala nätverk för att åka till Sverige, exempelvis genom att starta kooperativ och på sätt sänka kostnaderna för att arbeta i Sverige.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: , 2019. p. 100
Series
Delmi report ; 3
National Category
Social Sciences Human Geography International Migration and Ethnic Relations
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-160007 (URN)978-91-88021-38-0 (ISBN)
Available from: 2019-06-11 Created: 2019-06-11 Last updated: 2019-06-13Bibliographically approved
Axelsson, L. & Hedberg, C. (2018). Emerging topologies of transnational employment: 'Posting' Thai workers in Sweden’s wild berry industry beyond regulatory reach. Geoforum, 89, 1-10
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Emerging topologies of transnational employment: 'Posting' Thai workers in Sweden’s wild berry industry beyond regulatory reach
2018 (English)In: Geoforum, ISSN 0016-7185, E-ISSN 1872-9398, Vol. 89, p. 1-10Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper suggests a need to pay closer attention to the fact that employment is increasingly stretched across several regulatory regimes. This may help explain why governments, which rely on national legislative frameworks, struggle to protect the interests of transnationally mobile low-skilled workers. By adopting a topological approach to state regulation and authority, the paper demonstrates how powerful actors have reconfigured employment in Sweden’s wild berry industry in a spatial sense by engaging transnational subcontractors. It argues that transnational subcontracting inserts distance into employment relationships, thereby creating precarious migrant workers whose simultaneous absence and presence in several regulatory regimes places them partly beyond the regulatory reach of any one nation-state or nationally based trade union. The paper also argues that the Swedish government’s response to precarious working conditions in the wild berry industry can be understood as a series of attempts aimed at bringing transnational employment relationships within its regulatory reach. Drawing on topological spatial vocabulary, it shows how these attempts are less about the movement of state infrastructure into transnational space than about the stretching and folding of space itself, in an attempt to establish a powerful Swedish presence across distance. On the other hand, the paper concludes that transnational subcontracting opens up a space which enables wild berry actors to circumvent regulations and, as such, it remains very difficult for the Swedish government to reach into employment relationships in this industry.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2018
Keywords
Precarious work, Migrant workers, Seasonal agriculture, Transnational employment, Topology, Regulatory reach
National Category
Social Sciences Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-148932 (URN)10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.01.003 (DOI)000427211900001 ()881251 (Local ID)881251 (Archive number)881251 (OAI)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2013-46339-107809-35Swedish Research Council Formas, 2013-9487-25431-25
Available from: 2018-06-13 Created: 2018-06-13 Last updated: 2019-02-15Bibliographically approved
Hedberg, C. (2016). 'Doing gender' in the wild berry industry: transforming the role of Thai women in rural Sweden 1980–2012. The European Journal of Women's Studies, 23(2), 169-184
Open this publication in new window or tab >>'Doing gender' in the wild berry industry: transforming the role of Thai women in rural Sweden 1980–2012
2016 (English)In: The European Journal of Women's Studies, ISSN 1350-5068, E-ISSN 1461-7420, Vol. 23, no 2, p. 169-184Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

'Doing gender' has often been used as the theoretical entrance for research on gender issues in the social sciences. However, research has been accused of using the concept in a 'ceremonial' way, treating gendered structures as static. In response to this claim, this article investigates the process of 'hierarchization', or how gendered and racial hierarchies occur through everyday practices and political and economic contexts in the rural, wild berry industry in contemporary Sweden. The industry has gone through a thorough transformation, from irregular and small-scale production to regularized and large-scale production, which has affected the intersection of gender and racial structures. In particular, Thai women have gone from being active participants both as entrepreneurs and as workers, to working under native men, or being passive receivers of men's remittances. The mechanisms behind the intersection of gender and racial structures are a complex interplay of economic, social and institutional factors, which act on nested global, national and translocal scales.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2016
Keywords
Doing gender, hierarchization, intersectionality, masculinization, race, rural labour market
National Category
Social and Economic Geography Gender Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-110437 (URN)10.1177/1350506815571143 (DOI)000374793700005 ()
Projects
Vredens druvor? Effekter av bärindustrins globala arbetsrörlighet på landsbygdsutveckling i Sverige och Thailand (Formas)
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2013-9487-25431-25
Available from: 2015-10-21 Created: 2015-10-21 Last updated: 2018-06-07Bibliographically approved
Hedberg, C. & Haandrikman, K. (2014). Repopulation of the Swedish countryside: globalisation by international migration. Journal of Rural Studies, 34, 128-138
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Repopulation of the Swedish countryside: globalisation by international migration
2014 (English)In: Journal of Rural Studies, ISSN 0743-0167, E-ISSN 1873-1392, Vol. 34, p. 128-138Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Rural areas have often been treated as mono-ethnic and homogeneous areas, as compared to urban areas that are seen as dynamic and mobile areas. Recent discourses in rural studies have been questioning this idea, adding the perspectives that rural areas are constituted by mobilities, actively engaged in globalization processes, and characterized by ethnic diversity. As population decline is a constant threat to many rural areas, international migration flows can contribute to their repopulation and to a dynamic and transnational countryside. The present paper takes a quantitative perspective, thereby adding to the mostly qualitative studies in this field. Through the use of Swedish full-population register data, patterns of international migrants in rural areas are depicted, using a unique definition of rurality. Our study shows that international migration to the countryside reveals a rich diversity in ethnicity and age. Nordic and European middle-aged and elderly migrants have the highest odds of living in the countryside, while South East Asian women are an upcoming group. Migrants in the countryside are more often women, have a Swedish partner, have less education, live in border areas and are short stayers. Female migrants in rural areas also have a higher employment rate than their urban counterparts. The results suggest a variety of migration motives, ranging from quality of life to cross-border and marriage migration, which indicate increased globalization of the countryside.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2014
Keywords
International migrants, Rural areas, Repopulation, Globalization, Multiplicity
National Category
Social and Economic Geography Globalisation Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-110443 (URN)10.1016/j.jrurstud.2014.01.005 (DOI)000336464500012 ()
Projects
When the world goes rural: Are international migrants populating the Swedish countryside?
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas
Available from: 2015-10-21 Created: 2015-10-21 Last updated: 2018-06-07Bibliographically approved
Hedberg, C., Hermelin, B. & Westermark, K. (2014). Transnational spaces "from above": the role of Institutions in promoting highly skilled labour migration from India to Sweden. Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie, 105(5), 511-525
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Transnational spaces "from above": the role of Institutions in promoting highly skilled labour migration from India to Sweden
2014 (English)In: Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie, ISSN 0040-747X, E-ISSN 1467-9663, Vol. 105, no 5, p. 511-525Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The global network economy involves intensive interactions and flows between places. In this paper, we define a theoretical framework of labour migration in the global economy in which we propose the importance of transnational spaces 'from above' and how formal organisations develop networks for migration processes. This theoretical framework is employed on an empirical study that investigates the increasing flows of highly-skilled labour migration from India to Sweden within the ICT-sector. The paper illustrates how transformations and acting in formal institutions in the political and private sectors have a strong impact on the transnational migration of highly-skilled labour. By integrating theories from migration studies, institutional theory and economic geography the theoretical framework has been able to conceptualise factors that are less visible in migration studies 'from below'. Thereby this paper contributes to a more multi-sided understanding of transnational migration processes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley-Blackwell, 2014
Keywords
Transnational, labour migration, institutions, ICT sector, India, Sweden
National Category
Economics and Business Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-110440 (URN)10.1111/tesg.12110 (DOI)000345694700002 ()
Available from: 2015-10-21 Created: 2015-10-21 Last updated: 2018-06-07Bibliographically approved
Hedberg, C. (2013). ‘Grapes of wrath’?: Power spatialities and aspects of labour in the wild berry global commodity chain. Competition & change, 17(1), 57-74
Open this publication in new window or tab >>‘Grapes of wrath’?: Power spatialities and aspects of labour in the wild berry global commodity chain
2013 (English)In: Competition & change, ISSN 1024-5294, E-ISSN 1477-2221, Vol. 17, no 1, p. 57-74Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Despite their central position, workers' relationships have often been a neglected issue in commodity chain approaches. This article analyses how the social relations of workers are affected by economic upgrading in the wild berry global commodity chain (GCC). It is argued that the social effects in a GCC are the result of multiple power spatialities, which must be analysed both according to workers' rights and from a household perspective. In the Swedish wild berry GCC, foreign workers are contracted on a seasonal basis to collect the raw material. The regulated workers, who are principally from Thailand, are subject to social upgrading as well as social downgrading, involving the potential for both exploitation in the Swedish labour market and social empowerment in their homeland. It is concluded that a complex mix of hierarchical, networked and topological power spatialities explain the construction of the wild berry GCC and its effects on worker relations.

Keywords
Global commodity chain, social upgrading, power spatialities, berry industry, Sweden, Thailand
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-110444 (URN)10.1179/1024529412Z.00000000025 (DOI)881251 (Local ID)881251 (Archive number)881251 (OAI)
Available from: 2015-10-21 Created: 2015-10-21 Last updated: 2019-02-15Bibliographically approved
Pettersson, K. & Hedberg, C. (2013). Moving out of ‘their places’?: Immigrant women care entrepreneurs in Sweden.. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 19(3), 345-361
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Moving out of ‘their places’?: Immigrant women care entrepreneurs in Sweden.
2013 (English)In: International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, ISSN 1476-1297, E-ISSN 1741-8054, Vol. 19, no 3, p. 345-361Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this paper, we analyse immigrant women’s entrepreneurship in the care sector in Sweden. Twenty in-depth interviews with care entrepreneurs in the Stockholm region are analysed regarding the motives and entrepreneurial processes, against the background of the gender and ‘racially’ divided labour market. We conclude that the interviewed women are motivated by complex reasons, like a wish to create better care and better conditions for their personnel. In an act of transformation they turn negative reactions into actions and become entrepreneurs in order to make space for better care, at the margin of a subordinated sector of the economy. We conclude that they cross gendered and racialised lines in their identification as entrepreneurs, even though they are not seen as entrepreneurs by others. We find no evidence for the women being motivated to become entrepreneurs in order to escape unemployment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
InderScience Publishers, 2013
Keywords
immigrant women, gender, ‘racialisation’, entrepreneurship, care sector, Sweden, in-depth interviews, motives, identification, space, entrepreneur
National Category
Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-148934 (URN)10.1504/IJESB.2013.055307 (DOI)
Available from: 2018-06-13 Created: 2018-06-13 Last updated: 2018-09-05Bibliographically approved
Hedberg, C. & Tammaru, T. (2013). ´Neighbourhood effects´ and ´City effects´: the entry of newly arrived immigrants into the labour market. Urban Studies, 50(6), 1165-1182
Open this publication in new window or tab >>´Neighbourhood effects´ and ´City effects´: the entry of newly arrived immigrants into the labour market
2013 (English)In: Urban Studies, ISSN 0042-0980, E-ISSN 1360-063X, Vol. 50, no 6, p. 1165-1182Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

An important debate in current research and policy focuses on the role of urban residential segregation on the social mobility of immigrants. Much focus has been on ‘neighbourhood effects’ and on how spatial variations within the city affect individual careers. This paper adds the analysis of variations of labour market incorporation between cities. The labour market careers of one migrant cohort to Sweden are analysed, where the analysis of ‘neighbourhood effects’ and ‘city effects’ are studied jointly, using a longitudinal database and discrete-time event history analysis. The results show that labour market participation increases slowly over time and there are large variations due to migrant origin, gender and education. Both ‘neighbourhood effects’ and ‘city effects’ were significant, but whereas the former decreased over time, the ‘city effect’ was robust. Accordingly, contextual aspects of the individual city need to be included in the analysis of neighbourhood effects.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Sage Publications, 2013
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-148935 (URN)10.1177/0042098012461674 (DOI)881251 (Local ID)881251 (Archive number)881251 (OAI)
Available from: 2018-06-13 Created: 2018-06-13 Last updated: 2019-02-15Bibliographically approved
Hedberg, C. & Pettersson, K. (2012). Disadvantage, Ethnic Niching or Pursuit of a Vision?: Motives of Immigrant Women Care Entrepreneurs in the Ageing Swedish Society. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 13(4), 423-440
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Disadvantage, Ethnic Niching or Pursuit of a Vision?: Motives of Immigrant Women Care Entrepreneurs in the Ageing Swedish Society
2012 (English)In: Journal of International Migration and Integration, ISSN 1488-3473, E-ISSN 1874-6365, Vol. 13, no 4, p. 423-440Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

As immigrant groups grow older, host societies are faced with new challenges of integration. In a labor market that is structured by ethnicity and gender, the demand for culturally competent care provides immigrant women with the opportunity to become entrepreneurs within the care sector. This article analyzes 20 in-depth interviews with immigrant women from 13 countries who are entrepreneurs in home-help services for elderly people. The article analyzes the complex motives behind the women’s entrepreneurship. Ethnic entrepreneurship has mainly been approached as a way for immigrants to survive in the labor market—the disadvantage theory—or as a means to create job opportunities for co-ethnics within ethnic economies. Opposed to this, three main motives appear in the analysis: first, the processes of ethnic and gender sorting in the care sector; second, ethnic strategies in the labor market; and third, the wish to gain independence and improve the quality of care. Only in a few cases is ethnic entrepreneurship practiced within ethnic economies; instead, it is mainly found within cross-cultural economies, consisting of employees and customers of mixed origin who are embedded in a majority society. The women construct their ethnic identities to compete in the segmented Swedish labor market by creating ethnic identities of care that are adjusted to meet the needs of their customers in a cross-cultural society.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2012
Keywords
Ethnic and women’s entrepreneurship, Ethnic economies, Cross-cultural economies, Culturally competent care, Sweden
National Category
Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-148937 (URN)10.1007/s12134-011-0217-1 (DOI)881251 (Local ID)881251 (Archive number)881251 (OAI)
Available from: 2018-06-13 Created: 2018-06-13 Last updated: 2019-02-15Bibliographically approved
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