Filipina Domestic Workers and Caregivers in London and New York: Networks, Networking, and the Limits of Organising

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Rizza Kaye CASES, University of Trento, Italy
One major trend in international migration of Filipinos is that women generally outnumber men and that most of these Filipinas are employed in caregiving and domestic work. While hailed as unsung heroes of their country of origin and whether they have the legal authorisation to work or not, they remain disadvantaged and vulnerable to exploitation in their countries of destination.

However, alongside the focus on the difficulties that migrant workers face, it is also equally important to explore the strategies they employ in order to survive and realise their aspirations in a foreign place. Using quantitative and qualitative techniques, this paper focuses on one form of such strategies – forming and maintaining networks. It is recognised that potential material and non-material resources can be accessed through one’s connections. Going beyond the individual ties that constitute migrant networks, the study also examines Filipino communities and organisations as key players in improving the conditions of Filipino workers as a particular group. By tracing the development and possible transformations of migrant networks from initial migration phase (pre-London/New York) to the process of settlement and subsequent integration, the paper examines the transition from forming informal ties to engagement with formal organisations, particularly in identifying the conditions in which such engagements become possible.  

On the other hand, it also argues that the reciprocal exchange of support from migrants’ informal connections can also be seen as a way of self-organising such that each member of the network can expect help and assistance in times of need without needing the ties with formal organisations.

Finally, the study resonates the idea that networks are not static sets of connections but are also subjected to the changing needs and experiences of migrants. The paper concludes with exploring the practices of engagement and disengagement vis-à-vis the evolving nature of migrant networks.