University of Oulu

Lauren Martin, Eeva-Kaisa Prokkola, Making labour mobile: Borders, precarity, and the competitive state in Finnish migration politics, Political Geography, Volume 60, 2017, Pages 143-153, ISSN 0962-6298,

Making labour mobile : borders, precarity, and the competitive state in Finnish migration politics

Saved in:
Author: Martin, Lauren1; Prokkola, Eeva-Kaisa2
Organizations: 1Durham University, Department of Geography, Lower Mountjoy, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE, United Kingdom
2University of Oulu, Department of Geography, PO Box 3000 90014, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2017
Publish Date: 2019-09-09


This article explores how the multiplication of labour migration categories relies upon strategic territorialisations of borders to differentiate between workers’ nationalities, worksites, and skills in Finland. We argue that for certain categories of workers, migration policies encourage workers to become mobile in ways that make them more precarious. We analyse worksites that show the different ways that labour is made mobile: the internationalization of higher education; Finnair’s labour outsourcing and offshoring practices; and the recruitment of forest berry-pickers from Thailand. We first trace contentious migration politics in Finland, revealing conflicts over labour protections, universal labour rights, the state’s obligations to create employment, economic competitiveness, national identity, and the precarisation of work. We show how practices of legal, procedural, and spatial differentiation particularise the conditions of work and argue that, even for skilled workers, the strategic territorialisation of borders works to differentiate between workers and work sites. This differentiation works to make labour mobile in multiple ways and, due to the selective territorialisation of labour protections, the political geographies of migration in Finland tend towards the precarisation of labour for skilled and unskilled workers alike.

see all

Series: Political geography
ISSN: 0962-6298
ISSN-E: 1873-5096
ISSN-L: 0962-6298
Volume: 60
Pages: 143 - 153
DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2017.07.009
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 519 Social and economic geography
513 Law
Funding: This work was supported by the Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher Grant #268596 and Academy of Finland’s Strategic Research Council Grant #303527.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 268596
Detailed Information: 268596 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
303527 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2017. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license