This study focuses on the employment experience of French immigrant women working in French-speaking service companies in Israel (most of them call centers). We asked whether this employment pattern represents an opportunity for the French women immigrants (“safety net”) or a barrier (“honey trap”). To answer this question, we interviewed 31 French women immigrants employed at French-speaking call centers and conducted interviews with the managers of five call centers. Our study points to several themes, revealing the call centers as a necessary income source that also offers flexible work conditions, defines norms of emotional behavior, blurs the lines between secular and sacred, and serves as a community center. In addition, our study reveals that French immigrant women working in call centers express ambivalent attitudes toward their workplace and are aware of the complexity arising to their work pattern. It appears that while in the short term the transnational employment pattern presented in this study fulfills an economic, communal and social need for the immigrants, in the long run it may hinder their integration into the Hebrew-speaking job market.

issue 16 / December 2019 by Shirly Bar-Lev and Karin Amit