Edited by Elizabeth Mavroudi, Ben Page and Anastasia Christou
Chapter 7: Temporality, self-development and welfare among foreign domestic workers in Singapore
This chapter examines temporality and self-development in relation to the well-being of foreign domestic workers in Singapore. The interpretation of self-development in this instance is drawn from the economist Amartya Sen’s understanding of progress as an increase in an individual’s capabilities. Two moments in timespace are important here: initial adjustment to life in Singapore (called ‘last time’), and later transitions to a position where there are some possibilities for self-development (called ‘already time’). In this way, temporal structures are shown to be integral to the welfare of migrants. A key element in understanding migrant welfare is clarity in obtaining knowledge of cultural and human capital. A lack of the latter can further suppress agency, and the threat of deportation can become pronounced. At the same time, the Filipino and Indonesian workers in this sample also engaged in educational classes which aided self-development and hence contributed to agency over time. All these trajectories are interlinked with the future of migrant temporalities as much as time is a core component of all the stages of their current welfare. Keywords: foreign domestic workers, migrant welfare, capabilities, self-development, migrant agency, Singapore
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