My current research examines the labour market integration of Filipino immigrants in Toronto, the transnational linkages they create with communities and families in the Philippines,
and the process
of socio-economic change in sending areas. Conceptually, I am interested in the interface between political economy approaches to class and labour markets, and cultural
approaches that expore the intersection of class and other bases of identity.
My recent work has been funded through the following grants from the Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council of Canada:
- 2010-13 SSHRC Standard Research Grant 'Class Reproduction, Employment and
Filipino-Canadian Youth Identity'. Principal Investigator: Philip Kelly.
Through these projects, I am exploring several dimensions of migration and transnationalism:
Immigrant Labour Market Integration
In collaboration with the Community Alliance for Social Justice, a Filipino advocacy alliance in
Toronto, I have been conducting detailed empirical research on the labour market experiences of Philippine-educated immigrants.The issue of access to regulated professions, along with
experiences of discrimination, job search patterns, and institutionalized deskilling through the
Live-In Caregiver Programme are all of key importance. I have also conducted collaborative
research with the University of the Philippines Alumni Association in Toronto.
My latest project, funded by SSHRC, relates to Filipino-Canadian youth and the ways in which
ethnic identity, as constituted in Canadian urban contexts, is implicated in patterns of employment,
education and economic outcomes. I am particularly interested in the processes through which
class reproduction occurs for members of the immigrant second generation. This project involves research in Toronto, Hamilton, Winnipeg and Vancouver (and particular neighbourhoods within
these cities). The project continues my collaboration with the Community Alliance for Social Justice.
I am currently also directing a knowledge mobilization exercise called the Toronto Immigrant Employment Data Initiative. It involves accessing data (primarily from Statistics Canada surveys)
to service the needs of community organizations in Toronto that are engaged with immigrant employment issues.
Transnational Household Linkages
Participation in the labour market, searching for a job, information flows about new opportunities,
and decisions on the type of employment to accept, are all socially embedded processes that
occur in local labour markets. But I believe they are also significantly shaped by a household's transnational linkages. Thus, immigrant labour market integration in Toronto cannot be divorced
from conditions in sending areas. Nor can labour markets in those sending areas be fully comprehended without acknowledging the role of distant connections. In this way, the labour
markets of Toronto and Manila, for example, become functionally integrated through transnational households and individual decisions. I have been exploring this issue by interviewing transnational household members, and institutional actors in the labour market, in both Toronto and
Migration and Agrarian Change in Southeast Asia
Migration and transnational linkages (for example remittance flows) have significant consequences
for agrarian change in Asia. The transformation of gender roles, household economics, and labour markets all impact on economic life in Southeast Asian societies. But equally, changes in industrial and agrarian sectors create the conditions, motivations and resources for international migration.
Thus, it is important to integrate analyses of changing agricultural, manufacturing and service sector activities into an understanding of development and migration processes - the Philippine rice
cultivating village or coconut plantation is, for example, far less removed from the Toronto urban
labour market in reality than the traditional academic division of labour might imply. Under a
SSHRC major collaborative project (2005-2010) I am examining the implications of
transnationalism and migration for agrarian change in Southeast Asia.
Picture: A jeepney in Tanza, Cavite, is emblazoned with the words 'Canadian' and 'Ontario' - highlighting the source of remittances that financed its purchase