Migration and Precarious Work: Negotiating Debt, Employment, and Livelihood Strategies Amongst Bangladeshi Migrant Men Working in Singapore’s Construction Industry
Yeoh, Brenda S.A.
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To the extent that circular labour migration in Southeast Asia is increasingly dominated by migrants concentrated amongst the low-wage/-skilled occupational sectors, it may be observed that migration and precarious work are mutually constitutive in significant ways. Inasmuch as migration is frequently espoused as an effective developmental strategy for securing pathways to socioeconomic mobility, less is known about the specific conditions and practices that enable and/or constrain these possibilities. Furthermore, since migrants undertake significant investments (often by means of debt and collateral loans) to finance their migration, the risks and consequences of failed migration are far-reaching. Taking the case-study of Bangladeshi men migrating to Singapore as low-wage construction workers, this paper draws on findings from a quantitative survey (n=205) and in-depth interviews (n=30) to examine the different processes and practices that mediate men's migration experiences and outcomes, as well as how they view and negotiate issues of debt and risk in their individual migration trajectores. By analysing both ends of the migration stream – i.e. taking into account pre-departure decision-making, conditions of training and recruitment, as well as workers' employment experiences at destination – it sheds light on the specific conditions of precarity that underpin migration and construction work, whilst emphasising men's livelihood strategies in negotiating pathways to upward mobility within this context. The evidence gathered will provide a firm basis for policy and advocacy work to formulate interventions for increasing the developmental outcomes of migration for construction work.
Rights holderUniversity of Sussex
- Working Papers