School of Social and Political Sciences - Theses
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Item'What's two years for the rest of my life?': interrogating the imagined futures of migrant domestic workers amidst present realities in SingaporeChoo, Kai ( 2018)There has been growing concerns around the vulnerability of migrant domestic workers to labour exploitation and abuse while abroad. Much research attention has been focused on the way their capacity to resist coercion and mistreatment is stunted by the existence of hostile state policies within the host country. This study seeks to investigate another possible factor that may influence migrant domestic workers’ decisions concerning whether and how to resist unequal employer-domestic worker relations. This factor being their ‘imagined futures’, understood here as a desirable future that one imagines that they might or should have. A total of eighteen in-depth qualitative interviews with Filipino and Indonesian domestic workers and Singaporean employers were conducted over two months of fieldwork in Singapore. The findings from these interviews led to the overall conclusion of this study: Foreign domestic workers’ tendency to default to more subtle, individualised forms of resistance over overt, coordinated acts of contestation must be attributed not only to the presence of institutionalised forms of dominating power, but also to the more unassuming yet highly enticing disciplinary power of imagined futures. By taking a temporally informed analysis of migrant domestics’ everyday decision making in Singapore, this study contributes to a more nuanced account of the constraints and possibilities, limitations and benefits of resistance within the context of migrant domestic workers’ lives.