Being called “skilled”: a multi-scalar approach of migrant doctors’ recognition


  • Joana Sousa Ribeiro CES - Center for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal



Migration, doctors, multi-scalar approach, process of recognition, labelling


This article highlights the way the specific configuration of migrants’ skills relies on the relation between admission and inclusion policies, which involves several actors, time-frames and a multi-scalar integrative approach. It builds on a qualitative study which reports different scales of analysis for enhancing different actors participating in the recognition process of being called “skilled”. The study investigates how the “skilled migration” category is socio-institutionally constructed and how it corresponds to a recognition process that interplays with different scales (macro, meso and micro scales) and the corresponding actors (regulatory actors, civil society organisations and migrants). The main argument of this article is that the regulatory framework (e.g. admission policies, academic institutions’ procedures, professional bodies’ rules), organised civil society interventions and networks of power are key factors for the development of an “ascribed qualified migrant” into a de facto “achieved skilled professional”, and therefore the recognition of migrants as visible – and valued – “skilled professionals”.

Author Biography

Joana Sousa Ribeiro, CES - Center for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal

Joana Sousa Ribeiro is a researcher at Centre for Social Studies and a PhD student at the School of Economics, University of Coimbra. Her PhD thesis is about the de-skilling and re-skilling process of migrants in the healthcare sector. Her main research interests include socio-professional mobility and migration, longitudinal studies, intercultural studies and citizenship. Among other publications, she published in 2017 "Making the "Structures" Speak: Migrant Biographies along Time", a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, 32, 2, 388-390; in 2015,"COMpartilhar histórias de vida: (inter)subjetividades, (inter)reconhecimentos e (i)migração", in Elsa Lechner (org.), Rostos, vozes e silêncios: uma pesquisa biográfica colaborativa com imigrantes em Portugal. Coimbra: Almedina and in 2014, with other authors, "Health Professionals moving to and out of Portugal: a typical case?", Health Policy, Volume 114, Issues 2-3, 97-108. With other two colleagues, she coordinates an IMISCOE research network group - YAMEC Network - that focuses on issues of mobility of young adults and the economic crisis.


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How to Cite

Ribeiro, J. S. (2018). Being called “skilled”: a multi-scalar approach of migrant doctors’ recognition. Migration Letters, 15(4), 477–490.