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State-led Migration, Democratic Legitimacy, and Deterritorialization: The Philippines' labour export model

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image of European Journal of East Asian Studies

Developing countries are increasingly facilitating migration as a way of generating remittances for the home economy. The Philippines serves as a paradigmatic example, inaugurating a labour export scheme in 1973 that has grown each year and resulted in nearly 25 per cent of the labour force working abroad. The institutionalization of this labour export policy, along with changes in citizenship and voting laws, has led to the increasing deterritorialization of the Philippines state, with concomitant implications for democracy and democratization. This deterritorialization presents both opportunities and challenges for the state. Among them are the possibility of securing sustained remittances and the necessity of securing democratic legitimacy from a globalized polity. This paper traces the evolution of this labour export policy and analyzes the effects of state discursive strategies designed to secure democratic legitimacy. To further this analysis I present the results of a survey conducted among Filipina domestic workers in Hong Kong (n=691). The responses indicate the discursive strategy of 'national heroes' has been effective in that majorities of OFWs view themselves as 'heroes of the nation.' However, OFWs also view themselves as making sacrifices for the nation and have concerns about government commitments to protect the rights and interests of OFWs.

Affiliations: 1: University of South Florida


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