The Making of a Transnational Workforce: A Historical View of Global Labor Deployment from the Philippines, 1974-2014

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal III (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Alinaya Sybilla FABROS, University of the Philippines, Philippines, University of California Berkeley, USA
This paper provides a historical account of the growing and increasingly diversified deployment of Filipino workers in various parts of the world. Official government figures show that since 2004, more than one million Filipino workers are dispatched to a variety of occupations and sectors in 196 destinations worldwide. With the rise and facilitation of a brokerage state that has institutionalized channels for labor export, Filipino workers have become regarded as the most globalized workforce in the planet (Rodriguez, 2010). Taking stock of four decades of institutionalized labor export, I extend the labor export discussion beyond migration to cover three key modalities: overseas migration (OFW), special economic zones (EPZs), and transnational service outsourcing (BPOs). The study aims to explore an institutional and intergenerational connection between strategic labor export modalities. Harnessing key pieces from Philippine migration and outsourcing literature, and Philippine government statistics on OFW deployment and BPO expansion, I map out key processes, actors and mechanisms involved in the transnationalization of the Filipino labor force since the New Labor Code of 1974. Here, I link the analysis of 1) an enduring modality where workers physically move from one location (overseas work) to 2) a more recently diversified platform, wherein jobs and investments move while workers stay fixed in their locations. By looking at these deployment modalities as connected rather than separate arenas, can we develop a better understanding of how a transnational workforce emerges and expands? What can we learn about the mechanisms and dynamics of transnational worker circulation from the supply side case of a labor exporting country? I conclude with a research agenda for intergenerational research on the expansion of a transnational labor force.