Social & Economic Policies and Irish Work Practices: Examining the Influences of Policy on Workers in Ireland

  • Cuffe, James (Principal Investigator)
  • O'Brien, Hazel (Principal Investigator)
  • Rodrigues, Pilar Luz (Project Lead)

Project Details


This project aimed to investigate the everyday lived experiences of Brazilian migrant workers with precarity in rural Ireland. The study sought to understand Brazilian migrant’s experiences of the precarity associated with their social and economic position as labour migrants in rural Ireland. The research had two main objectives, to examine the social conditions of precarity affecting Brazilian migrant workers, and to analyse how they mitigate the challenges of living precarious lives. The qualitative study incorporated participant observation and semi-structured interviews with 21 participants carried out over a period of 18 months of intermittent fieldwork. Fieldwork took place predominantly in the small rural town of Gort as well as the towns of Roscommon, Ennis, and Waterford city. The study relied on an adaptation of Abdelmalek Sayad’s double absence theory (2004), incorporating Place and Place-Making Theory (Agnew 2005; Tuan 1977; Relph 1976; Gieryn 2000) to the former as a means to expand its explanatory power. Place Theory was employed in the study to grasp the Brazilian migrant workers’ response to precarity.

Layman's description

This project set out to understand the experiences of labour migration amongst Brazilian worker migrants in rural Ireland.The study focused on how social and economic policies position non-EU migrants in a precarious position as they work and live in contemporary Ireland. Brazilian migrants in Gort, Co. Galway illustrate how the State shapes the migrant experience, and emphasises that the negative effects of precarious labour are evident in many aspects of their lives outside work. The study found that migrants use ideas of 'home' and 'place' to help provide them with a sense of belonging and community in spite of the social and economic structures which disadvantage them in this respect. Ultimately, their experience of living in Gort, and their ideas of Gort, help these migrants to manage their complex experience as a labour migrant in contemporary Ireland.

Key findings

The study demonstrated that the State, its immigration policies, and the status which they produce create and compound vulnerabilities amongst the Brazilian migrant population in rural Ireland. It also illustrated the costs experienced by Brazilian migrant workers as a result of living in precarity. Through an analysis of findings centred on work, the costs of migrant precarity, community, and home, this doctoral thesis has made an original contribution to knowledge in the field of migration studies, by providing an in-depth understanding of the social conditions prevailing among Brazilian migrant workers living in precarity in rural Ireland and the strategies employed by them to mitigate the negative effects of migration and precarity.

Effective start/end date01/09/201731/12/2021

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities


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