Employment Incongruence: Interpersonal, Institutional, and Structural Barriers in the Marriage Migration Context

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Abstract

This paper examines the incongruence between the employment preference and employment status of female marriage migrants from Mainland China to Hong Kong. In the mainstream literature, previous
studies on immigrant women’s employment examined either their attitudes towards paid employment (employment preference) or their actual labour force participation (employment status). Although these studies have shed lights on the gender differences in immigrants’ employment opportunities and the social processes that shaped the relative disadvantages immigrant women encountered in the labour market, few systematically theorize the linkage between attitudinal employment preference and actual employment behaviours and elaborate on the circumstances at which one’s employment preference might not be in congruence with his or her employment status. To resolve this missing link, by drawing on ethnographic data including participant observations and in-depth interviews obtained from 35 female
marriage migrants in Mainland China-Hong Kong cross-border marriages, I proposed an integrated framework of employment incongruence that combines attitudinal employment preference and actual employment behaviours to investigate the opportunity structure of migrant wives’ paid employment in the marriage migration context. Using this framework, I examined two scenarios of paradoxical mismatch of migrant wives’ employment preference and employment status: (1) while some wanted to work, they did not work, and (2) while some did not want to work, they ended up working for payment. I explicated such phenomena by unraveling how the marriage migration context has contributed to such paradoxical
mismatch by creating series of social, economic, political, and cultural barriers at interpersonal, institutional, and structural levels. I also revealed the resilience of and strategies taken by these women to confront such barriers. Theoretically, findings of this study could not only reconcile the gap between attitudinal employment preference and actual employment behaviours, but also illuminate the interplay between structure and agency in the case of migrant wives’ employment.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventThe 10th International Convention of Asia Scholars - Thailand, Chiangmai, Thailand
Duration: 20 Jul 201723 Jul 2017
https://www.iias.asia/event/icas-10

Conference

ConferenceThe 10th International Convention of Asia Scholars
Abbreviated titleICAS 10
CountryThailand
CityChiangmai
Period20/07/1723/07/17
OtherInternational Institute of Asian Studies, Regional Center for Social Change and Sustainable Development, and Faculty of Social Sciences of Chiang Mai University
Internet address

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