Discursive representations of domestic helpers in cyberspace

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

Abstract

This study investigates the online narratives Hong Kong employers construct around foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) and aims to compensate for the existing gap in discursive research and mainstream media, which tend to focus on the perspective of FDHs. It examines how employers portrayed FDHs both positively and negatively, as well as how they represented themselves in online environments. Critical discourse analysis was used to analyse more than 2000 Facebook posts on the subject of FDHs, identifying discursive strategies used in constructing both power dynamics and identities. The findings revealed that nomination strategies dominated the discourse, constructing both the in- and out-group identities of FDHs. Other strategies, such as predication and augmentation, showed how employers portrayed themselves as opportunity-givers and food critics, which further contributed to the inferior self-perception of FDHs. The study concludes that employers have developed a sense of ideological ambivalence, in which they perceived FDHs as motherly figures while simultaneously maintaining their superior status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-63
Number of pages16
JournalDiscourse Studies
Volume22
Issue number1
Early online date10 Nov 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

Keywords

  • Internet discussion forum
  • critical discourse analysis
  • discursive identities
  • foreign domestic helpers
  • social actors

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