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English as a Border-Drawing Matter: Language and the Regulation of Migrant Service Worker Mobility in International Labor Markets

Geraldina Polanco () and Sarah Zell ()
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Geraldina Polanco: California State University
Sarah Zell: University of British Columbia

Journal of International Migration and Integration, 2017, vol. 18, issue 1, No 14, 267-289

Abstract: Abstract This multi-sited study in Canada, Mexico, and the Philippines examines how appraisals of English language competence transnationally mediate labor market entry for temporary migrant workers. Focusing on “low-skilled,” interactive service sector jobs, we show how border drawing along English language lines contributes to the regulation of access to global labor circuits and the segmentation of workers into occupational niches. Mediated by the migration industry, English linguistic capital acts as a marker of status and occupational desirability, shaping and reinforcing employer preferences and (re)defining the “properly embodied” service sector worker. This has implications for the social (re)organization of labor markets and the mobility options available to migrants and their sending states across sectors and scales.

Keywords: Linguistic capital; Borders and bordering; Labor migration; Migration industry; Service sector work (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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DOI: 10.1007/s12134-016-0478-9

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