Resuming the ‘Skilled Worker’ Identity: The Filipinas’ Strategies in Labour Market Participation in Melbourne, Australia

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/

Abstract

Through the lens of culture intersecting with gender, race and class, this monograph looks at the reconfiguration of skilled worker identity of 20 Philippines-born women who have immigrated to Australia. Through interviews and analyses of their lived experiences, it attempts to comprehend the complexity of their unemployment, from their encounter with the labor market, to their attempts in breaking into the workforce. It contextualizes the institutional disadvantages and discrimination befalling migrant women of non-English speaking background, as well as housework and mothering responsibilities they continue to resist at home. The complex interaction of the women’s higher education, English language proficiency, their sense of purpose and other personal resources—all assisted in reframing their subordinated identity, and recapturing their careers. The women risked taking jobs lower than their qualifications, took further studies, went through rigorous accreditation, and acquired local experience, as stepping stones to regain their professions and subsequently their middle-class status. Their journey, however, is not without severe difficulties. By using agency and privilege, this monograph argues that the women epitomized the classical modernist ideology of the self within a capitalist system. They were aware of structural disadvantages and discriminatory practices, but they found ways of working within these limitations, which results to masking the hardships they endured. The study debunks the effectiveness of the notion that individual’s capacity over the state “to enterprise themselves” is a success strategy.


Keywords

career reconstitution, citizenship rights, Filipina immigrants, intersectionality, occupational mobility, skilled migration

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Professor
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faruk
Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)