With reference to empirical examples, explore the everyday activities of different groups of migrant workers in (re)producing processes of ‘globalisation’
Globalisation is most commonly known as the process that combines international practices, falling into various strands consisting of “politics, economics and culture as well as mediated communications” as stated by Marsella and Ring (in Kofman and Youngs, 2003: 3). There are many definitions of globalization that are widely recognized in our present day, the most common, which I will be referring to in this essay, being that of greater economic integration by the increased unity of our world, also known as ‘Economic Globalisation’.
Harrison (2007:35) refers to Economic Globalisation as “increases in trade, foreign investment, and migration” and according to the Global Education Program, within the past few years, the improvement of technologies and ‘reduction of barriers’ has meant that the level of exchange between people and countries in terms of ‘goods, services, knowledge and cultures’ is ever increasing at speedy rates.
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As migration falls into a factor of economic globalization, in this essay, I plan to explore how migration influences globalization and the impact it is having on the migrants themselves, also taking into account the social dimension of globalization in terms of how it affects the migrant’s identities socially and culturally. Being one of the most passionately debated issues in politics today, Globalization is often split in outlook, with those ‘for’ and those ‘against’ the phenomena.
The positive believers of Globalization argue it is the foundation for solving problems of high unemployment and poverty worldwide, whilst others believe it is rather the catalyst of these issues. In terms of the benefits of Globalisation on an international scale, Dinello and Squire (2005; xv) states “the proponents of globalization often point to its three-fold beneficial impact, with positive implications for equity: 1) stimulating trade and economic growth, 2) reducing poverty without rise in inequality and 3) contributing to economic and political stability… and statistics provided strongly support these claims.
For example, Uganda in 1990 had its poverty rates fall by around 40 per cent whilst its rate of school enrolment doubled in numbers (Dinello and Squire, 2005:xv). However, those who are “anti-Globalisation” equate the process as having negative impacts such as inequality by only creating economic growth in selected countries as well as increasing the rate of vulnerability in countries and people.
Used as an example is China, which has had a remarkable success since entry into the ‘global economy”, however, this success has been accompanied by an “unparalleled rise in the country’s within-country inequality” (Dinello and Squire, 2005:xvi) Migration, as stated by Marsella and Ring (in Adler and Gielen, 2008:11), refers to “the act or process by which people, especially as a group, move from one location… to another” being a procedure that has been an ‘inherent part of human existence’ from early centuries, it is now a central form of our ‘global flow of persons, goods, practices and ideas’.
According to the International Organization of Migration (IOM) migration is currently viewed as being one of the most ‘defining global issues’ in our present day, with around 192 million people living outside their place of birth in 2005, accounting to be roughly 3 percent of the worlds overall population. The annual growth rate of migration being around 2. 9 percent, however, it should be noted that this rate has stayed constant over the past 30 years (Van Hear, N. nd Nyberg-Si??rensen, N, 2006).
In continuation, an important factor that Marsella and Ring (2008) raise is the ideology that the movement of migration arises from what can be referred to as “push and pull” factors. Putting it into perspective, the pull factors of migration being the option of ‘new possibilities, ‘rewards’ and ‘hope’ as a majority of migrants leave their country of origin to increase their economic prospects and be reacquainted with family and friends.
On the other hand, the push factors, which cause migrants to leave their home countries being that of “a sense of danger, discontentment and boredom” or avoiding dangers of persecution in their home countries (in Adler and Gielen, 2008:11). Van Hear, N. and Nyberg-Si??rensen, N (2003: 51) state “The ratio of real income per head in the richest countries to the poorest rose from 10:1 in 1900 to 60:1 by 2000. Such disparities in living standards and the lack of development options in developing countries are at the root of much migration. ”
Western Europe, North America and Australia are more recognized as the preferred locations by all migrants ranging from the lower class, asylum seekers and skilled professionals. However, despite migrants personal beliefs of achieving better lives, historically, migratory workers are most typically known to have very low economic status due to their low pay, often living in ghettos and suffering from relative poverty due to migrants being “sources of cheap labour”, vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and mistreatment (Adler and Gielen, 2008:11).
Frequently, workers from developing countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam are lured to developed countries with the illusions of being provided with better economic status through higher wages and improved employment only to arrived and be subjected to wages below the minimum and inhuman working hours. Marsella and Ring (in Adler and Gielen, 2008:11), referred to this as ‘modern-day slavery’, as often these migrant workers can not “escape, and if they try may be assaulted or killed (as)…
Many are illegal immigrants… and have no one to turn to for assistance” The process of Migration, however, has an impact not only on those directly involved but also on their host country, the biggest benefit, being the transfer of skills and labour as countries can invite migrants to fill in the gaps in their labour markets. In addition, they introduce new cultures, increase workforce competition but can also have negative impacts such as increasing strains on the host’s economy if claiming government benefits.
Although Migration is a key element greatly influenced by Globalisation, it is found that “Discussions of Globalisation rarely consider international migration at all… ” (Stalker, 2000;1). In terms of how migration relates to Globalisation, Taran (1999) implies that this new age of Globalization is “now generating a new configuration of forces promoting migration” (Adler and Gielen 2008:13) and states seven reasons for current Globalisation influenced migration, some of which being “aspects of Globalisation such as unemployment and culture conflict”,” development-induced migration” and “large-scale corruption.
This being highly portrayed in the fact that increases in “forced migration” is present as the number of “illegal immigrants showing up throughout the world and requesting asylum” is on the increase. An example being that of hundreds of illegal migrants that had to be declined entry into Australia via Indonesia typifies (Adler and Gielen 2008:15). There are a lot of misconceptions about the current trends in migration and development, Van Hear and Nyberg-Si??rensen (2003: 51) argue that “the popular conception that the poor are migrating from the (Global) South to the (Global) North is unfounded”.
In fact it is shown that “most migration is among developing countries rather then from the developing world to the developed”. An important fact they raise is that of the lack financial resources that ‘the poorest of the poor” have, which is ‘1. 2 billion people living on less than US$1 a day’ as well as adequate network connections, they simply can not afford the cost of ‘Inter-continental migration’. The ideology of migrant workers being predominantly in the unskilled work sector is also debatable.
A good example of being Switzerland, which, due to a raise in economic expansion and the need for workers to fill the labour shortages, signed foreign labour recruitment agreements and now is classed as having one of the highest immigration rates on the continent. Similar to most European countries, Switzerland has and continues to take advantage of the available labour in other countries to ensure economic growth. In Accordance with the 2000 census, over 22% of its total population were foreign born.
In continuation, although the beliefs are that migrants tend to have low status jobs, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) state that in 2001, the highest number of foreign workers were “in the areas of commerce, banking and insurance” in Switzerland, which was a figure just over 24%, next was metalwork and machinery (15. 8%) (OECD, 2004; 36). The statistics suggest traditional views of migrants being low-end workers may be rather a narrow viewpoint, especially in terms of countries within the European Union.
In saying this however, although the lack of available statistics makes it difficult to assess the skill levels of foreign workers in Switzerland, statistics of available data does suggest that a high majority of foreign workers are unskilled in relation to Swiss Nationals. A high 36% percent of Foreign nationals leaving school after compulsory education, in comparison to only 18% for Swiss nationals (OECD, 2004). Migration has positive effects on two levels,Van Hear, N. nd Nyberg-Si??rensen, N describe this as the ‘family level’ and the ‘community level’. The family level being the fact that migration can help people gain access to better housing increased household earnings and advanced healthcare and educational opportunities. Van Hear, N. and Nyberg-Si??rensen, N 2003: 52) argue the “positive effects may spread to the wider community and society, preventing the decline of rural communities or collapse of national economies”.
In terms of the community level, “migrants’ hometown associations (HTAs) may serve as platforms resulting in significant development, such as improvements in local health, education, sanitation, and infrastructure conditions, benefiting migrant and non-migrant households. “. Van Hear, N. and Nyberg-Si??rensen, N argue however that a major drawback of migration is that the negative impact faced by the ‘sending community’ if a majority of their skilled labour force is sent abroad, this devaluing the countries labour market.
Nevertheless, through remittances this disadvantage can be overlooked, as it allows surpluses to be sent back to home families. Studies have shown that remittances generally contribute to a raise in trade levels, income distribution and economic growth, Kavita Datta et al (2007: 46) refers to the “growing focus on financial remittances as potential drivers of development” where in a recent report made by the World Bank, “officially recorded remittances to the developing world in 2005 were US$167 billion, a dramatic increase from US$31. 2 billion in 1990” Therefore making remittance “the second-largest capital ? w – behind foreign direct investment”.
Remittances have a great impact on those in developing countries as they provide immediate financial support. Manuel Orozco (2002) argues that the function of recent family remittances is a vital sign of Globalisation in Central America and the Caribbean. Manuel (2002) states “family remittances are currently one of the most important forms of linkage among emigrants Latinos and Latin America” confirming that “Many Latin American countries find family remittances an important source of national income” (Manuel, 2002;46).
Din (2006) stated “remittances continue to play an important part in the link between ‘prosperous’ British Pakistanis and those relatives who still depend on remittances”. It is especially important for many households, as it is a direct form of financial resources and therefore has a greater impact then other resource flows (N. and Nyberg-Si??rensen, N 2003: 53). Datta et al (2007; 53) refers to a care worker from Jamaica who regularly sent money back home and a man who has taken on the role of a ‘transnational father’ sending home not only financial remittances for his children but also various needed resources.
On the other hand, As beneficial as remittances are they are also selective and do not benefit the wider community, tending to be most advantageous to those from better-off households who have the initial capital to send that family member abroad (N. and Nyberg-Si??rensen, N, 2003). Din (2006; 25) points out that it mainly only benefits the immediate family and in relation to Pakistanis “despite the increase in financial resources for some lower caste families, they still remained in the same caste”, meaning they still faced the same judgments.
The cultural impact migrants have on Globalisation is highly evident in Britain today, where we have a high range of various ethnic minority and exceedingly multi-cultural communities, creating a versatile and vibrant society, full of a vast range of cultures and identities. Often migrant’s practices, customs and branches of their original culture are brought over and recreated in their host countries, an empirical example being that of Chinatown in London’s West End.
Although there are many advantages of cultural migrant impacts, feelings of hatred can arise and prompt social conflicts. Moses (2008:176) argues that while “many people are willing to embrace the economic and political gains from globalization, there is a persistent fear that globalization undermines national cultures and identities. ” A multicultural society may be seen as quite threatening to those native-born citizens of the host countries. Engels (in Ikhlaq Din, 2006:29) states “migration has always been a controversial issue both socially and politically.
During periods of mass migration to the UK white and non-white migrants faced hostility when looking for employment and housing”. However, In Margaret Brearly’s (2007) article “THE ANGLICAN CHURCH, JEWS AND BRITISH MULTICULTURALISM” she states the statistics collected from a mori poll for the BBC in August 2005, soon after the London July bombings showed that although 32% of the population thought that multiculturalism “threatens the British way of life”, 62% believed that “multiculturalism makes Britain a better place to live.
Its can be argued that Migration causes the involved individuals to lose their own culture in some cases. For example, Margaret Brearly’s (2007) refers to ‘Other commentators’ that have argued that multicultulist policies that have failed to “to promote formal learning of English, prevent integration” which has caused “inter-ethnic tensions and ghettoization into separate enclaves with high unemployment and social alienation. (75% of Pakistani and Bangladeshi families are classified as living in poverty, while 35% of Muslim children live in ‘workless’ homes)…
In this, following this concept, through the movement of increased migration and globalization as a whole, there would be greater harmonization, which could evidentially lead to one overall shared culture worldwide. Datta et al (2006; 48) state it is evident that the process of migration is becoming a highly influential factor for the functioning of global cities such as London, “arguably creating a ‘migrant division of labour’ (May et al. , 2006)”.
Work Permits (UK) has facilitated the application process so for example, foreign students studying the United Kingdom have the ability to apply for a work permit immediately after they graduate, whereas previously they were required to return to their home country before application (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; 2004) Datta et al (2007) quotes Ratha (2003) in stating “there has also been a major shift in recent years in the way in which Northern governments view migration”.
For a start, a number of governments and IFIs now agree that migration contributes to economic growth both nationally and globally”. In “International migration” by Jonathon Moses (2006; 159) he refers to two groups of migrant home countries, those with a “relatively small, but poorly paid workforce” and those with a “limitless supply of cheap unskilled labour”. The latter group being that of countries such as Bangladesh and India, which have an infinite amount of cheap ‘unskilled labour’.
In these countries, it is expectant to find government incentives and ‘targeted government institutions’ to encourage ‘migration, remittances and repatriation’. Moses (2006) goes on to explain that in the countries without excess surplus of labour, emigration can reduce the nations already limited supply of labour, not all negative however, “this increased scarcest brings with it greater influence and a better price”.
Therefore internationally it can be argued that migration has lead to improvements in both the Global South and North as Harrison (2007) argues that poverty in the South falls for two reasons, firstly “the migration of capital to poor countries raises wages in poor countries, and the migration of unskilled labor from poor to rich nations raises the income of both the migrants and those workers who remain behind” (Harrison, 2007; 112). However it is also important to note that many developing countries face what Moses (2006) refers to as “brain drain” which was first used to refer to the Indian Economy.
During the 1970s to 1980s it was found that the ‘entire graduating classes’ from elite Indian institutes of technology emigrated, many achieving financial success abroad (Moses; 2006). Africa being the worst disadvantaged, as it suffered from a shortage of labour, a substantially high number of doctors trained in Ghana during the 1980s left the country, according to the UNDP’s 1992 Human Development report, the figure was at least 60 per cent. The shortage of labour therefore, leading to a stunt in economic development (Moses 2006).
However, Moses (2006; 174) suggested that in the long run these home countries could benefit from the ‘brain-drain’ thesis as first generation “brain-drain migrants have managed to build technology bridges that span the divide separating developing and developed worlds. ” Once the bridges are created these individuals can then return back to their countries and capitalizes on investments that have been made in education and human ‘capital development’ (Moses 2006; 174).
To conclude the main influence migrants have on Globalisation is through remittances, by supplying their families back home with financial support they aid in lowering the rate of poverty. In addition, if remittance funding is used for capital generation it aids in creating an increase in the home countries economic growth. However, due to the nature of remittances being selective, it is not beneficial to all and could be argued promotes further inequality, especially within developing countries. In addition, the low working conditions and personal sacrifices these workers make to be able to remit needs to be put into consideration.
What needs to promoted is the economic development of the Global South, which would decrease the incentives to migrate as, in accordance with Stalker (2000;10) “In theory Globalization should eventually make countries economically more equivalent so people should not need to move around the world searching for work” . More development policies are needed and perhaps the advancement in Globalisation is needed, as the exposing of developing economies to the Global world, through competition, will create efficiency and productivity.
The detrimental effects of unsuccessful migration also needs to be taken into account, in cases where migrants are not contributive to taxes and drain on government revenue and in terms of culture where native-born citizens feel threatened. All in all, i feel for migration to have an influential impact on Globalisation trade and foreign investment must also be taken into account, as migration is only one factor. Secondly for a positive impact, migration must be controlled and efficiently regulated.