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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32840

Title: At the Bottom: Migrant Workers in the South Korean Long-term Care Market
Authors: Um, Seong Gee
Advisor: Lightman, Ernie
Department: Social Work
Keywords: migrant workers
long-term care provision
Issue Date: 31-Aug-2012
Abstract: This thesis explores Korean-Chinese migrant workers’ local experiences of the global phenomenon of international migration of care labour, focusing on how the care labour of migrant workers is being constructed through the intertwined social and political processes in South Korea’s shifting long-term care sector for the elderly. The thesis uses a qualitative case study method and relies on data collected through participant observation, interviews, and textual analysis during field research between November 2009 and May 2010. The analysis is based on a global economy of care framework, which understands care work as being made of products that are socially and politically constructed in the global processes. My study findings illuminate the roles and relations of the state, the employers, and the workers in producing a huge migrant workforce in South Korea’s segregated elder care labour market. The policy analysis at the intersection of elder care, labour market, and immigration policies shows that, over the last decade, the South Korean government has significantly reconstructed the boundaries of elder care work through the expansion of publicly-funded programmes for the elderly and the institutionalisation of care work in those programmes. In the institutionalisation process, the government’s ignorance about the care work performed in the private care sector has resulted in different regulations and working conditions for care workers in the publicly-funded versus the private sector. My empirical findings highlight how employers’ search for ‘cheap’ and ‘flexible’ labour and older female migrants’ disadvantageous status in the labour market have placed these workers in the less regulated private sector and their pay and working conditions at the bottom of hierarchical elder care workforce. In advocating for migrant care workers’ labour rights, this thesis challenges the current discriminative employment practices and the government’s lack of protection and regulation of care work in the private sector.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32840
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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