Minu Thomas and Sun Sun Lim:
Migrant workers’ use of ICTs for interpersonal communication – The experience of female domestic workers in Singapore - Abstract

This paper explores ICT use by Indian and Filipino female migrant workers who are employed as live-in maids in Singapore through ethnographic interviews with twenty women. Their particular employment circumstances translate into a circumscribed and isolated living and working experience which makes their access and use of ICTs even more significant. Our findings show that these women employ a variety of technologies for everyday communication, including letters, the mobile phone and the Internet, with the mobile phone being the most crucial communication device for most of them. Mobile communications enable them to foster emotional links with their friends and family, grow their social networks and afford them greater autonomy in seeking better job opportunities and the management of their personal matters. The paper concludes by making three policy recommendations aimed at improving ICT access for migrant workers. First, upon arrival in their host countries, all migrant workers should be educated about the access, use and cost of different communication devices and services available to them. Second, contracts between employers and migrant workers should have clear provisions for the employees’ rights to communication and specifically, mobile communications. Third, governments, non-governmental organisations and the private sector should actively seek to narrow the technological divide between migrant workers’ home and host countries so that these workers’ communications with individuals and organisations in their home countries are not impeded.

EASA Media Anthropology Network