GLARUS / Global Labour in Rural Societies


The project addresses the important but poorly explored question of how contemporary global flows of low-skilled and manual labour transform the social fabric of non-urban regions in Western society. It will theorize how immigration into rural sociocultural contexts differs from immigration into urban regions and generate an improved theoretical understanding of the spatial complexities of contemporary international migration and its implications for local rural communities.

The objective is to answer the following research questions:

  • What is the spatial structure of the rural immigration phenomenon, and what macro-level factors may explain immigrants’ distribution across rural regions?
  • In what ways does the rural societal context shape the immigration phenomenon?
  • How are rural labour immigration processes embedded in and shaped by properties of the rural economy?
  • How does large-scale labour immigration instigate social change in rural communities?
  • What are key implications of the labour migration phenomenon, for the labour immigrants and for local/hosting rural populations?

The project’s theorizing strategy is to cross-fertilize knowledge from three research fields, each offering important insights into the global labour phenomenon, which has been previously scarce and poorly integrated: 1) immigration theory, 2) labour market theories, and 3) the rural studies tradition. Building on insights from these literatures, three key conceptualizations will guide the gathering and analyses of the materials.

  • Rural transnationalism: How are transnational spaces created, practised, and experienced differently in rural and urban areas? What are the specifics of the rural version of transnationalism, and with what implications for the actors?
  • New social inequalities in rural societies: How are the interactions of class and ethnic inequalities expressed in the case of global labour in rural societies? Are there specific properties of the rural logic of social distinctions and class structures? Do labour immigrants experience their position as precarious workers differently in rural and urban communities?
  • Multispatial rural practices, identities, and belongings: How are rural places constructed by and interwoven into complex webs of relations with extra-local places, e.g., as demonstrated by the reliance of local rural economies on global labour markets? As actors’ everyday lives are increasingly spatially distributed – what are major impacts for questions of rural identities and belonging?




2017 - 2021

Source of funding

The project is funded by The Norwegian Research Council's FRIHUMSAM programme (10 Mill NOK) with additional NTNU funding (5,2 Mill NOK). The project period is 2017–2021.


NTNU – Department of Sociology and Political Science:

University of Oslo – Department of Sociology and Human Geography:

  • Professor Mette Andersson
  • PhD candidate Inga Sæther

University of Warsaw – Centre for Migration Research:

  • Postdoc: Kamila Fiałkowska
  • Researcher: Kamil Matuszczyk

University of Glouchestershire: Senior lecturer Sam Scott

Kenyon College: Assistant Professor Shaun A. Goulding

University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh: Associate Professor Paul Van Auken

University of California – Davis: Associate professor M. Anne Visser

Centre for Rural Research, Norway: Senior researcher Svein Frisvoll

International Advisory Group:

  • Karen O’Reilly, University of Loughborough, UK,
  • Aina Tollefsen, Umeå University, Sweden
  • Pawel Kaczmarczyk, Univ. of Warsaw, Poland
  • Luis E. Guarnizo, US, UC Davis, US.