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Type: Theses
Title: The political economy of labour migration from Bangladesh power, politics and contestation
Author: Roy, Rupananda
Issue Date: 2017
School/Discipline: School of Social Sciences
Abstract: This dissertation aims to enhance our understanding of the role of political and social factors in shaping the terms under which migrant workers are incorporated into global labour markets by examining the case of Bangladesh, one of the world’s principal migrant labour-sending countries. The literature on migration and development has given little attention to the role of political and social factors in shaping the development impact of labour migration while that on the political economy of migration has focused overwhelmingly on labour-receiving countries. The few available studies on the political economy of migration in labour-sending countries have concentrated on how states have facilitated exploitation of migrant workers by, for example, celebrating them as national heroes/heroines and in so doing normalising violation of their rights. The existing literature has thus told us little about the contestation that occurs over migration policy within labour-sending countries. This is despite the fact that it has a significant bearing on who has access to overseas migration, on what terms, and to whose benefit. This dissertation aims to fill this gap in the literature by analysing the contestation that has occurred over Bangladesh’s labour migration policies and their implementation since the country achieved independence in 1971 and the implications this has had for the protection of migrant workers’ rights. It makes two broad claims. The first relates to the changing nature of the country’s migration policies and their implementation in Bangladesh. Between 1971 and 1990, it argues, Bangladesh pursued an approach to labour migration that can be broadly characterised as neo-liberal with weak protection of migrant workers’ rights and moments of direct state intervention. By contrast, in the period since 1990, it has pursued an approach that can be characterised as neo-liberal constrained by stronger protection of migrant workers’ rights again with moments of direct state intervention. In both periods, there has been poor implementation of measures to reduce fraud in the recruitment process and protect migrant workers’ rights. The second claim relates to the political and social dynamics underpinning these policies and their implementation. Drawing on social conflict theory, the dissertation argues that the above continuities and shifts in the nature of Bangladesh’s migration policies and their implementation have reflected: i) the continued political dominance throughout the post-independence period of an alliance between the dominant fractions of the domestic bourgeoisie and predatory state officials, ii) the patriarchal nature of Bangladeshi society and the ideological salience of Islam, iii) the increased scope for subaltern elements to participate in the policy-making process as a result of democratisation, and iv) the structural power of foreign governments, particularly those in receiving countries and that have provided aid to Bangladesh. The final part of the dissertation suggests six policy-related implications of the analysis. As the main implication, it suggests that rights advocates in labour-sending countries should consider focusing on promoting democratic reform as it ultimately serves to provide better protection of migrant workers’ rights by creating electoral incentives for politicians to pursue pro-poor policies and opening up new opportunities for migrant workers’ groups to emerge, participate in and influence the migration policies and their implementation. The dissertation concludes by stating that in the foreseeable future, protection of Bangladeshi migrant workers’ rights seems to rest on the outcome of political and social struggles between competing forces over the implementation of existing rights-based policies.
Advisor: Rosser, Andrew
Drew, Georgina
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Social Sciences, 2017.
Keywords: political economy
labour migration
labour-sending country
Bangladesh state
social conflict theory
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
DOI: 10.4225/55/5976eb872bd37
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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