9723 - Enterprising Brazilian Women in Berlin

Economic reasons may not always be a prior motivation for women's migration - however, getting or having a job turns out to be an important concern for most of them when arriving in the new place of living. Restrictive labor market access for non-European women lead to multiple strategies especially among Latin American migrants to make their living. Underpaid jobs in the private and/or (semi-) informal care and cleaning service sector are the most common work places, as a handful of studies for the US and the European context show. Less common and also less analyzed are self-employment activities of Latin American women. My paper focuses on Brazilian women in Berlin, Germany, and their strategies to gain a better positioning within the German labor market and German society by becoming self-employed. The growing number of Brazilian small-scale business women and their discursive construction of a migrant success story are the center of interest. These women started working in the cosmetic sector for one of the spreading so-called Brazilian Waxing Studios. The current success of these Studios facilitated the decision of many Brazilians to run their own enterprise. For them, ‘work’, 'having a job' and 'being self-employed' present distinctive meanings in relation to their experiences before migration, in relation to discriminating practices within the German labor market, to dominant discourse on ‘work’ (and integration) in the German society and to their actual enterprising activity. The paper explores their changing experiences especially related to their gender, social class and their nationality, and embeds it within the broader frame of Latina American women living in Northern Europe.

Keywords: migration, gender, self-employment

Author: Lidola, Maria (ZI Lateinamerika-Institut freie Universitaet Berlin, Germany / Deutschland)


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