Changing Lives and New Challenges
Edited by Jacqueline Scott, Shirley Dex and Heather Joshi
Chapter 14: Migration, Employment and Gender Divisions of Labour
14. Migration, employment and gender divisions of labour Linda McDowell, Adina Batnitzky and Sarah Dyer INTRODUCTION Transnational movements are perhaps the deﬁning characteristic of the global capitalism that characterises the new millennium. Flows – of people, money, ideas and information – have transformed the global political economy, creating new links between localities, regions and nation states. Although accurate ﬁgures are impossible to compile, about 200 million people are now migrants, the largest absolute number in history (Smith 2006: 9). Facilitated by developments in transport and communication technologies, people are now able to cross vast distances relatively easily and relatively inexpensively. Perhaps more signiﬁcantly, these technologies permit them to retain contacts with the ‘homeland’. The Internet, cheap telephone rates, low budget ﬂights, all mean that what was once – for migrants from say Poland to Chicago in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – a permanent movement, involving the severance of ties to those left behind, has become less permanent. It seems that a new stage in migration – although historical continuities are also clear – has begun: transnationalism, involving living between two (or more) places. In this chapter we explore the shape and meaning of transnationalism and its implications for gender relations, before turning to the particular position of migrant workers in the British labour market. First, we set the scene with a brief assessment of the scale and directions of contemporary movements. THE SCALE AND PATTERN OF TRANSNATIONAL MOVEMENTS Global patterns of migration are complex and historically variable, depending on changing political...
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