Structural Conditions and Agency in Migrant Decision-Making: A Case of Domestic and Construction Workers from Java, Indonesia
Khoo, Choon Yen
Yeoh, Brenda S.A.
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This working paper examines the migration drivers into the two low-paid and insecure occupations of domestic work and construction work from rural areas in Indonesia. While the ideas of migration exist in Indonesia’s social imagination, the decision making process on whether to migrate and who should migrate in the household is complicated by the gendered migration regimes, gender roles and responsibilities within the household as well as intergenerational family obligations. Traditional gender ideals see men as the more appropriate labour migrant (both internally and overseas). However, women have greater access to labour migration, especially to international markets, due to the availability of credit offered to facilitate their movement. In this paper, we investigate how migrants and their households exercise their agency in the context of structural gendered constraints. We found that some households reshuffle household roles and responsibilities to maximise economic gains through women’s migration, while men stay behind to take care of the household. Other households are immobilised by the gendered migration regimes where no one in the household migrates because men are unable to afford migration financially, while women are constrained by their household responsibilities. Other households make conscious decisions to work only within Indonesia (both men and women) or reject migration in favour of spending more time with their family members.
Rights holderUniversity of Sussex
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