Offshoring social reproduction: low-wage labour circulation and the separation of work and family life

Jakobsen, Thomas Sætre ORCID: 0000-0002-7531-7059, Scott, Sam ORCID: 0000-0002-5951-4749 and Rye, Johan Fredrik ORCID: 0000-0001-5252-359X (2023) Offshoring social reproduction: low-wage labour circulation and the separation of work and family life. In: Handbook on Migration and the Family. Edward Elgar, pp. 315-332. ISBN 9781789908725

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Low-wage labour mobility, across a periphery-to-core economic gradient, is one of the most important forms of contemporary international migration. Feminist scholars have investigated this type of mobility from the perspective of the (transnational) family. Given low-wage labour migrants are often circulators rather than settlers, and that they often migrate alone (without partners, children and other relatives), transnational householding arrangements become commonplace: whereby family care and wage-work is organised and carried out across borders. The chapter reviews the literature on transnational householding and then applies lessons from it to a case-study of Norwegian and UK horticulture where seasonal migrant labour usage is now the norm. We make the argument that physically separating migrants and their households – dividing work and family/ communal life – is pivotal to the realization of surplus value in this sector. The coexistence of low wages and a productive workforce are possible due not only to international migration in general but also to the specific ‘offshoring of social reproduction’ whereby work in the host country is separated from migrants’ active family and communal lives back home. This separation is principally driven by capital, but the agency of migrants is also evident in what constitutes a two-way, though uneven, process of ‘arbitrage’. We conclude that more research is still needed to shift emphasis from a workplace/ host-country lens towards a social reproduction/ transnational lens.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Chapter 20.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Migration; Globalization; Social mobility
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human geography. Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Sam Scott
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2023 11:58
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2023 04:15

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