Labour Migration, Neoliberalism and Ethno-politics in the New Europe: The Latvian Case

Author: Woolfson, Charles

Source: Antipode, Volume 41, Number 5, November 2009 , pp. 952-982(31)

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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The accession of the new European Union (EU) member states of Eastern Europe has highlighted ambivalence towards migration within the older member states. That same ambivalence has been less frequently discussed in the new. The former Soviet republic of Latvia serves as a case study of a new member state facing intensified pressure to accept inward migration to meet labour shortages, in part, a consequence of EU accession. Confounding appropriate political and policy responses is the sensitive issue of “ethnic balance”, a troubled “legacy” of Latvian history. This has been characterised as comprising a “regime of discrimination” against the Russian-speaking minority. In the context of changes in the global migratory landscape, the potential for a renewed of regime of discrimination is emerging, based on an ethno-politics that has wider European resonance.

Keywords: European Union enlargement; Latvia; ethno-politics; labour migration; neoliberalism; xenophobia

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Law, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK;, Email:

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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