The Improvised Language of Solidarity in Migrant Workers’ Organizing

Face-to-face CERIC seminar presented by Dr Gabriella Cioce, Lecturer in Work & Employment at the University of Sheffield.



There are considerable language barriers facing the potential collective labour organization of multi-ethnic migrant workers. From the research literature, we know little about linguistic practices that might overcome these barriers. Based on an ethnographic study of the participatory organizing of S.I. Cobas multi-ethnic migrant workers in the Italian logistics sector, we point to three linguistic practices that help overcome language barriers – translation, lingua franca and humour. We theorize these three linguistic practices as constituting an ‘improvised language of solidarity’. We argue that an improvised language of solidarity develops from, and can significantly support, participatory organizing.


Dr Gabriella Cioce has been recently appointed Lecturer in Work & Employment at the University of Sheffield. Her main research interests include migrant labour, intersectional workplace politics, labour and social movements and ethnographic methodologies. She co-authored this work with Prof Marek Korczynski and Dr Davide Però.


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