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Alienation and labor export in the context of globalization

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Beginning the early 1970s the Philippine government embarked on labor export as a development strategy to deal with its debt crisis, largely a consequence of structural adjustment policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Labor export has since become a major feature of globalization in the Philippines. This article argues that Philippine labor export in the context of globalization creates sites of and resistance to alienation. It examines the different forms of alienation that Filipino migrant domestic workers -- who comprise the bulk of Philippine export labor -- experience, drawing on qualitative/ethnographic data from fieldwork conducted in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vancouver, Rome, and Chicago. Viewing alienation as a dialectic, the article examines various forms of alienation--familial alienation, commodification of migrant/export labor, political and cultural alienation -- and discusses the different ways that migrant domestic workers deal with them. Situating its analysis within the interlocking aspects of experience-context-resistance, the article shows how these forms of alienation are structurally/contextually produced and contested, with careful sensitivity to the complexity in tackling the root causes of alienation in the context of neoliberal globalization.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14672710410001676043

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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