Breaking Open the Migration-Development Nexus: The Role of Migrants in Labor Regimes and Global Production Networks

Authors: Helene Pellerin*, University of Ottawa
Topics: Migration, Development, Third World
Keywords: Labour migration; labour regime; global production network; development
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Hampton Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Labor regime and global production network theories can enrich the migration-development question. Their socially embedded perspective on labor processes challenge on the one hand the 'push and pull' theories of migration focused on economic aggregates; on the other hand, they counter migration transition theory which assumes that economic development will reduce the propensity to emigrate (de Haas 2007; Martin & Taylor 1996). With their focus on various power dynamics in labor relations at different scales and within various locations of production and reproduction, these theories challenge optimistic development discourse. Yet, labor regime and global production network theories tend to reduce migrant labor mostly to its role as remittance providers (Smith et al. 2018) or as victims of deleterious labor competition. They ignore the role of agency migrant labor have in shaping transnational economic conditions (Faist 2010), particularly in the information and technology sector, where more autonomous highly skilled labor participate in transnational labor regulations, but not necessarily with positive outcomes (Pellerin 2017). This paper proposes to develop an analytical framework that combines labor regime, global production networks and migrant transnationalist theories to highlight the active role migrants play in shaping labor regimes at both the national and transnational levels. Using comparative data from Morocco, Algeria and Ghana, where high emigration rates coexisted with growth of their high tech sector in recent years, the paper will argue that migrants contribute to the (de)regulations of labor norms transnationally, with major consequences for labor reproduction and for development prospects in these countries.

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