London the Leveller: Ghanaian Work Strategies and Community Solidarity Ellie Vasta, Leander Kandilige


In Britain, there is much concern in policy and public discourse about immigrant integration and social cohesion. But how do immigrants themselves perceive the process of settlement in the UK? This question is examined through exploration of the work strategies developed by Ghanaian immigrants in London in their quest to live a decent life. We explore three issues: how Ghanaians negotiate relations of power in developing viable work strategies in London; how those strategies are shaped or mediated by family, community ties and social networks; and how Ghanaians themselves define and live ‘integration’ and cohesion. Our results indicate that some Ghanaians experience a ‘levelling’ process in their work lives in London, where they continually juggle between job exploitation, racism and inadequate pay. In addition, Ghanaians maintain strong family and community ties, a tradition carried over from Ghana. Distinct from the idea that weak ties outside one’s community are likely to provide the most relevant and adequate information and resources, we found that weak ties within the community provide the same function. Finally, immigrants tend to define ‘integration’ differently to ‘sense of belonging’.

Vasta, E. and Kandilige, L. (2010) ‘London the Leveller: Ghanaian Work Strategies and Community Solidarity’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 36(4): 581-598