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Turin shows how immigration impacts the labour market

A wave of immigration to northern Italy almost 300 years ago demonstrates the powerful dynamics governing workers, labour and relocation. Research results still seem relevant in the wake of massive immigration patterns today.
Turin shows how immigration impacts the labour market
In the first half of the 18th century, the city of Turin in Italy witnessed an influx of migrants coming from the Savoy Kingdom and nearby areas, such as Milan and the north-western Alps. The increase in population was fuelled by the arrival of skilled workers in building and construction. Several notable construction sites arose during this period, such as Palazzo Madama, Superga Cathedral and the royal hunting lodge of Stupinigi. The buildings were a result of a grand renovation scheme initiated by architect Filippo Juvarra.

The EU-funded WORK AND MIGRATION (Migration, integration and labour market: Skilled workers and building sites in Turin in the eighteenth century) project studied how migrants integrated in this early modern European city. It investigated access opportunities and integration strategies of immigrants in new locations such as Turin, looking at how they contributed to forming a group identity.

Turin witnessed rapid urbanisation through the extension of its north-western sector. It also saw many reforms that led to the institutional organisation of the state and the city during that period.

To achieve its aims, the project team studied how the newcomers accessed the labour market and integrated into society. It looked at immigrants’ origins and the impact on group solidarity, identity and formation of immigrant enclaves. Emphasis was also placed on understanding how institutions fostered the integration of migrants within the urban environment.

Valuable data were gathered and analysed from a variety of sources such as civil and criminal judicial acts, notarial offices, population censuses, work logs and building authorities. The resulting research offered accurate insight into the behaviour of social parties and revealed the process by which social spaces were defined. It outlined migratory chains and cohesion among compatriots, revealing complex networks of professional relationships surrounding construction sites.

This socio-political and economic analysis refines the debate on globalisation, influence of the labour market and role of relevant national institutions. It reinforces today’s EU legitimisation of immigration, which stipulates residency based on signing a labour contract and obtaining a work permit.

Lastly, the project focused on defining the Alpine areas in France, Italy and Switzerland as an Alpine space of true transnational character at European level. The research shows how the region brings together multiple identities as a laboratory for developing different cultures and minorities, validating previous research on the topic. In today’s world where globalisation and migration are important issues, this research adds important insights to the debate.

Related information


Turin, immigration, labour market, WORK AND MIGRATION, integration, Alpine
Record Number: 198760 / Last updated on: 2017-06-06
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