9450 - Narrating a Different Story. Work, Labor Market and Brazilian Business Women in Berlin

Even though economic reasons are not always the prior motivating factor for migration, for many people job-seeking turns out to be one of the most important concerns when arriving in their new place of living. But especially migrants of the Global South face different degrees of restrictive labor markets in the Global North, which work on highly discriminating grounds such as on nationality, race/ethnicity or language related skills. So do most Latin Americans when arriving in Northern Europe. Underpaid jobs in the service sector and the construction industry, often combined with informal and exploitative working conditions, present the few choices to gain living. An attractive way to elude working under these conditions offers self-employment. My paper focuses on Brazilian migrants in Berlin, Germany and their strategies to gain a better positioning within the German labor market 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. Having passed through the much studied care and cleaning service sector in Berlin, 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 studio. For them, ‘work’ gained 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 on 'work' related to their gender, race/ethnicity, social class and their nationality, and embeds it within the broader frame of Latina American migration, gender and labor market in Northern Europe.

Keywords: migration, gender, work, integration

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


University of Vienna | Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43 1 4277 17575