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Reimagineering the Nation

Essays on Twenty-First-Century Sweden


Edited By Aleksandra Ålund, Carl-Ulrik Schierup and Anders Neergaard

This collection of essays offers a critical analysis of neoliberal transformation as it has unfolded in Sweden, long regarded as exemplary in terms of social welfare, equality and an inclusive multicultural democracy. The book presents a multidisciplinary exposition on Sweden, seen in a wider European perspective. It addresses changing frameworks of citizenship, welfare and democracy, migration and asylum, urban segregation and labour market segmentation and processes of securitization. It illuminates intersecting dimensions of class, gender and racialization and juxtaposes xenophobic populism with new social justice and antiracist movements on a changing political stage. Addressing a growing alignment with retrogressive illiberal policies across Europe, the volume exposes the reach of the adverse direction in which European «integration» is currently heading.

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6. Swedish Retirement Migrants and Domestic Services in Spain: Informalisation and Moral Economy in Reimagining Sweden (Anna Gavanas)


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Anna Gavanas

6. Swedish Retirement Migrants and Domestic Services in Spain: Informalisation and Moral Economy in Reimagining Sweden1

Abstract: This chapter analyses Swedish international retirement migrants (IRMs) in Spain and their privatised consumption of domestic services (cleaning, care and domestic work). Between themselves, as well as in relations with workers and intermediaries, IRMs are part of a moral economy where increasing international gaps and inequalities appear more manageable, while enmeshed in the wider market of globalised labour. Through collective and individual strategies, IRMs’ moral economies mitigate the changing conditions of family and transnational gaps between welfare states.

There is a hand written note on the wall of a Swedish grocery store in Becenil2, the Canary Islands: ‘Are you looking for cleaning help? My name is Paula and I’m from South America looking for extra work here in Becenil. I only speak Spanish, am just over 50 years old, well behaved, honest and meticulous’.

Paula provides domestic services informally for a network of Swedish retirement migrants in Becenil, charging ten Euros per hour. She used to be a teacher in Bogota but moved to Spain looking for work when she became unemployed in 2008.

Today I work more and more because the Swedes recommend me to each other. I do well because I do a good job and I have talked to many who prefer Latinos and Latinas for cleaning, because we do it better than Spaniards, because...

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