Transnational migrants are often considered to be the core of the new global precariat. On the one hand, migrants are particularly likely to become precariats, due to the outsourcing of precarious work to migrant workers and the attribution of precarious citizenship status to migrants. On the other hand, labor migrants’ accounts show that this precarity is not exclusively based on oppression, misery, and exploitation, but that labor migration is also driven by hope and the imagination of a better future; hardships may even open up new opportunities. This article aims to scrutinize the ambivalence of precarity and the ways in which precarization processes also appear in highly skilled labor migration (in this case sought-after jobs as transnational athletes). The article draws on material from multisited field studies among aspiring and current soccer migrants. The experiences and conditions are described for female and male soccer players who originate from various West African settings and move to Northern European locations. The analysis finds ambivalent precarization processes at various points of the career. The temporality of precarization processes becomes apparent when comparing the large number of young men and women who strive to migrate to the few individuals who become professional players abroad but often struggle with occupational challenges after their careers. The article ends by suggesting an engagement with the ambivalences of precarious work in future studies, both in sport and other vocational sectors.

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Anthropology of Work Review
Department of History

Agergaard, S., & Ungruhe, C. (2016). Ambivalent Precarity: Career Trajectories and Temporalities in Highly Skilled Sports Labor Migration from West Africa to Northern Europe. Anthropology of Work Review, 37(2), 67–78. Retrieved from