Debt, Precarity and Gender: Male and Female Temporary Labour Migrants in Singapore
Yeoh, Brenda S.A.
Khoo, Choon Yen
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As one of Asia's key hubs for transient workers, Singapore's migration regime creates particularly gendered streams of labour, especially among lower skilled occupations, as is apparent in two key sectors - domestic work and construction work. Drawing on surveys with Bangladeshi construction workers and Indonesian domestic workers based in Singapore, as well as in-depth interviews with each group, this paper examines gendered issues of temporary labour migration, precarity and risk, as they occur against a backdrop of migrant indebtedness. In this paper, we argue that migrant indebtedness occurs along a spectrum that ranges from less visible, or what we call 'silently' incurred forms of debt, through to more 'resonant' types of debt that are acquired upfront and thus more readily quantifiable. Using this spectrum of migrant indebtedness, we aim to complicate debates about debt-financed migration by underscoring the ways in which notions of debt and unfreedom can be imbricated with both constraints and opportunities for migrants' agency.
CitationPlatt, M.; Baey, G.; Yeoh, B.S.A.; Khoo, C.Y. and Lam, T. (2017) Debt, Precarity and Gender: Male and Female Temporary Labour Migrants in Singapore, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 43:1, 119-136, DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2016.1218756
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