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Postscript: Infrastructuralization: Evolving Sociopolitical Dynamics in Labour Migration from Asia

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This article explores the trend of "infrastructuralization" in state-sponsored programs of low- and semi-skilled labour migration from Asia. These programs increasingly focus on facilitating migration rather than generating actual opportunities for mobility and substantive development. While providing training to develop skills targeting specific jobs in specific countries, the programs generally leave complaints about actual working conditions and wages to be managed by the migrants themselves. In this process, labour migration programs are infrastructuralized, meaning that there is an ongoing expansion and intensification of the socio-technical platform that makes mobility possible, as facilitation becomes an end in itself. This trend is tied to changes in the general development paradigm, labour and state-citizen relations across Asia, as well as the increasing importance of brokers in facilitating connection. This article first probes a number of internal dynamics around which infrastructuralization unfolds in practice. We then highlight how commercial intermediaries and public institutions, the two key actors in infrastructuralization, shape migration by producing context-specific migrant subjectivities, making aspirational work a central element of infrastructuralization. In the conclusion, we explore research agendas that can be developed further.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2018

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