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Labour Migration in Malaysia and Spain

Labour Migration in Malaysia and Spain: Markets, Citizenship and Rights

Blanca Garcés-Mascareñas
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 260
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  • Book Info
    Labour Migration in Malaysia and Spain
    Book Description:

    State regulation of labour migration is confronted with a double paradox. First, while markets require a policy of open borders to fulfill demands for migrant workers, the boundaries of citizenship impose some degree of closure to the outside. Second, while the exclusivity of citizenship requires closed membership, civil and human rights undermine the state's capacity to exclude foreigners once they are in the country. By considering how Malaysia and Spain have responded to the demand for foreign labour, this book analyses what may be identified as the trilemma between markets, citizenship and rights. For though their markets are similar, the two countries have different approaches to citizenship and rights. We must thus ask: how do such divergences affect state responses to market demands and how, in turn, do state regulations impact labour migration flows? And what does this mean for contemporary migration overall? This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1362-8
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-6)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-8)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 9-12)
  4. Preface
    (pp. 13-16)
  5. 1 Regulating labour migration
    (pp. 17-34)

    While the concept of the state has always been central to political discourse and political analysis, until the 1990s theories of international migration paid little attention to the role of the state in this domain (see Zolberg 1999). Since the central focus has been on the forces driving migration flows (why people migrate), theories of international migration have mainly referred to: 1) the structural forces in developing societies that promote emigration; 2) the structural forces in developed societies that attract immigration; 3) the motivations and goals of migrants themselves; and 4) the social and economic structures that connect emigration and...

  6. 2 Research design and methodology
    (pp. 35-48)

    As the literature cited in chapter 1 would suggest, state regulation of labour migration is confronted with a double dilemma. First, while markets require a policy of open borders to provide as many foreign workers as employers demand, citizenship requires some degree of closure to the outside. Second, while the exclusive character of citizenship demands closed membership, civil and human rights would seem to undermine the state capacity (or, as some would believe, the state right) to exclude foreigners once they’re in the country. In fact, rather than two separate dilemmas, the different factors involved shape a trilemma between markets,...

  7. 3 Malaysia
    (pp. 49-104)

    Immigration to Malaysia has mainly been explained in economic terms (Kanapathy 2001, 2004, 2006). The primarily adduced factors are the severe labour shortage generated by the country’s continuous economic growth in the past three decades and the economic disparities between Malaysia and migrants’ countries of origin. To illustrate, between 1987 and 1993, 14 million new jobs were created in Malaysia at an average growth rate of 3.9 per cent as compared with an average domestic labour force growth rate of 3.1 per cent. Labour shortages were particularly felt in manufacturing and construction, with an average employment creation growth rate of...

  8. 4 Spain
    (pp. 105-176)

    One of the most frequently cited factors for explaining migration flows is the economic difference found between countries of origin and destination. This is precisely what in 1992 Spain’s then Prime Minister Felipe González noted when showing fellow European heads of state a photograph of Morocco taken from Spanish shores: ‘This is our Rio Grande […]. It is not far. And living standards are four, five, ten times lower on the other side’ (The New York Times26 October 1992). Ever since, Spain’s economic growth and the progressive impoverishment of Morocco and Africa, in general, have only aggravated the difference....

  9. 5 Comparative perspective
    (pp. 177-194)

    Until the 1980s, demands for closure were somewhat weak in both Malaysia and Spain. This means, in particular, that the distinction between citizens and foreigners – the legal barriers to entry and membership – were rather blurred. The paths that led to this situation were, however, different. Malaysia had a colonial past in which immigrant workers (from China and India) were perceived as ‘birds of passage’ or sojourners. After independence in 1957, many of these ‘eternal foreigners’ finally obtained Malaysian citizenship. Yet, this did not make them complete insiders since the distinction betweenbumiputera(literally meaning ‘sons of the soil’, which includes...

  10. 6 Conclusions
    (pp. 195-212)

    After the guestworker experiences in Europe and the US during the 1950s and 1960s, there was general consensus that guestworker programmes had failed wherever and whenever they had been tried (Castles 1986; Martin 2000; Martin & Teitelbaum 2001). In particular, the conclusion was that they were inherently flawed because, as the saying goes, there is nothing more permanent than temporary foreign workers. Prominent among the reasons given in the academic literature to explain temporary workers’ propensity to settle was the argument that foreigners in liberal democracies are entitled to rights under the aegis of liberal constitutions (Hollifield 1992). In a...

  11. References
    (pp. 213-229)
  12. Annex 1: Maps of Malaysia and Spain
    (pp. 230-231)
  13. Annex 2: Acronyms
    (pp. 232-232)
  14. Annex 3: Migration policies
    (pp. 233-238)
  15. Annex 4: List of interviews
    (pp. 239-242)
  16. Annex 5: Graph of immigration trends by nationality in Spain
    (pp. 243-243)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 244-251)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 252-257)