Neoliberal Postcolonialism in Skilled Labor Mobility - Filipino Nurses Coping with Deskilling, Discrimination and Ethnic Hierarchies in Finnish Elderly Care

Monday, July 14, 2014: 11:45 AM
Room: 301
Oral Presentation
Lena NÄRE , Senior research fellow, Helsinki, Finland
European societies are facing the crucial question of who will provide care for the ageing populations in the future. In many European countries the answer has been migrant worker force, and Finland has recently started to follow suit. Since 2007, private companies have been recruiting registered nurses from the Philippines to work as practical nurses in Finnish elderly care homes. The paper has two parts. First it argues that the recruitment is based on a neoliberal postcolonial logic according to which the Philippines is perceived an endless source of labor force for the needs of ageing Finnish society and international mobility as individualized risk taking based on economic calculation. Secondly, the paper analyses how Filipino nurses cope with the deskilling inherent to the recruitment process and with the everyday discrimination and ethnic hierarchies they encounter in the work places. Moreover, the paper explores how the nurses find dignity in their everyday work (Stacey 2005). A common strategy is to create a moral hierarchy based on ethnic differences according to which Filipino nurses have a better work ethic based on fictive kinship, while the Finnish nurses are claimed to have an instrumental approach to their work. The old discourse of care as ‘labor of love’ is then given new meanings in the global hierarchies of care work. The paper draws on ethnographic case study of the Filipino nurse recruitment including qualitative in-depth interviews with Filipino nurses working in Finland (N= 20), representatives of the recruitment company and the private care companies employing the nurses (N=14) and a content analysis of the media coverage of the phenomenon (2007-2012).