The Global Context of Gendered Labor Migration
from the Philippines to the United States
Labor Market: This week, we are going to deconstruct the meaning of migration from both micro and macro structural considerations. Migration is a multi-layered process that results from transnational and globalized economic changes.
What is labor?
Labor is the process by which there an activity results in production. For example, if an individual in the United States works as a cashier for Walmart s/he is providing the service of scanning items for a consumer and collecting capital as a form of exchange for the goods. This type of labor is called â€œformalâ€ labor because the employee is providing a service that is documented by the government and s/he contributes a certain amount of their earnings to state and federal taxes.
Another example of labor is called â€œinformal.â€ This type of labor is not widely recognized because the earnings are usually not taxed. You are probably familiar with the term â€œoff the booksâ€ or â€œunder the table.â€ Prostitution is an example of informal labor.
What is the Market?
The â€œmarketâ€ refers to the flow of capital that is accrued from the labor and production of goods and services.
Within the market there are various sources of capital production and a hierarchical structure that stratifies who gets what amount of capital based on their position in the labor market.
Marxâ€s theory of Capitalism discusses the conflict between the owners of the means of production (bourgeoisie) and the workers (proletariat). For Marx, conflict occurs as workers are often exploited for their labor to the point where they become alienated or detached from their position in the market and even from the items which they are producing. The bourgeoisieâ€s main goal is to maximize their profits at any costâ€”even to their employees!
Now how does this theory fit into the current condition of the labor market? Can you think of how people can be exploited for their labor?
Regulating work hours, assessing working conditions and assigning pay scales based on type of work is essential to minimizing exploitation. However, these basic labor rights are not guaranteed in many parts of the worldâ€” particularly the developing world. Even undocumented immigrants in America are subject to vulnerable working conditions that can result in alienation. Think about itâ€¦
How does the labor market affect migration?
Recall my last lecture on globalization. When development occurs it creates inequality throughout the developing world. For example, in India there are skilled workers who are trained in telecommunications who are able to gain access to middle-class employment in Indian and have a greater chance of migrating to the U.S. in search of higher wages. At the same time, the development of telecommunications industries in India has also increased the demand for cheap telecomm labor and companies are constantly disposing of workers who are unwilling to work for low wages. What happens to a telecomm worker who was hired under a contract and is now unemployed because the corporation they worked for has found cheaper labor in a neighboring city or even in another country in Asia?
This type of condition sparks the process of migration. Remember, migrating for work can occur nationally and internationally. For internal migration, think of the antebellum period where freed slaves in America migrated north in search of employment.
The process of migration is gendered and the type of employment available within the market is under constant flux. There are certain markets geared towards men and other geared towards women that will stratify the location of migration, wages earned and gendered social mobility in society.
Answer the following questions using lecture notes , article and textbook chapter 4 (text book name: Gender and US immigration Contemporary Trends by Pierrette hondagneu-stelo) will update text book chapter shortly
1. Cite and discuss the significance of the structuration perspective in examining international migration and labor.
2. Use Chapter 4 the textbook and the article to show specific examples of how structural changes and globalization has contributed to gendered markets.
3. Discuss the role of capitalism in shaping the â€œdomestic economy.â€
4. Is there a solution to this form of inequality? What do you think?
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