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    Contextualising intersectionality: a qualitative study of East Asian female migrant workers in the UK

    Hwang, S. and Beauregard, T. Alexandra (2022) Contextualising intersectionality: a qualitative study of East Asian female migrant workers in the UK. Human Relations 75 (4), pp. 609-634. ISSN 0018-7267.

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    Previous intersectional research on ethnic minority women has largely focused on inequalities and disadvantages associated with the intersection between their minority gender and ethnic identities. In this study, we challenge the static and dichotomous assumption of the existing intersectionality framework (e.g., privilege versus disadvantage) and adopt Holvino’s intersectional perspective of simultaneity as a theoretical lens through which to demonstrate the importance of understanding intersectionality within various levels of contexts, or contextualising social differences. Interviews with 43 female migrant workers from China, Japan, and Korea living in the UK revealed that these women perceived disadvantage in terms of gender/ethnic stereotyping and discriminatory practices at work. At the same time, however, their accounts provided evidence of contextualised privilege, namely ‘relative privilege’ (privilege in comparison to multiple reference groups), ‘assigned privilege’ (privilege assigned by their employers and the host society), and ‘ambiguous privilege’ (privilege as a double-edged sword). Based on these observations, we suggest that the location of East Asian women is not fixed within the interlocking systems of oppression in the host country; rather, this location is dynamic and fluid within interpersonal, organisational, and societal contexts in the home and host countries, moving back and forth between disadvantage and (limited) privilege.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Intersectionality, Ethnic minority, Gender, Migrants, Privilege, Work-life balance, Discrimination
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Business and Law > Birkbeck Business School
    Depositing User: Alexandra Beauregard
    Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2021 14:27
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:07


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