Maids to Order in Hong Kong: Stories of Migrant Workers by Nicole Constable

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Maids to Order in Hong Kong: Stories of Migrant Workers by Nicole Constable

Nicole Constable, in Maid to Order in Hong Kong: Stories of Migrant Workers describes the physical and psychological lives of those domestic workers in the homes of Chinese in Hong Kong, their attitude towards their own lives and work, and the attitudes of the workers and the Chinese toward one another. Constable’s primary purpose, from a scholarly perspective, is to document the particulars of the lives of these women for others interested in labor relations, cross-cultural attitudes, class differences, and the role of the state in regulating foreign workers. This anthropological and historical study of the lives of Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong …show more content…

No doubt that this symbol serves to control present maids, as it locates this occupation in a specific, cultural context. Thus, one of the main advantages of this part of the book is a strong historical background and multicultural archival data. The next three chapters describe how employment agencies, government and law regulations control and discipline foreign domestic workers, how maids become docile; powerless and passive. Investigation of the methods used to discipline their bodies seems to be the most important issue. The Author shows how the process of recruitment and selection is oriented to mold women into docile domestic workers, becoming unconscious victims. “Applicants are fitted into uniforms, examined, photographed, x-rayed, measured and evaluated (74),” thus making the role of a maid fully standardized. Maids have to accept very detailed regulations such as: an obligation to be patient, polite and respectful to all people in a family of the employer, never complain about a salary, and never go out without permission or not to attend any religious rituals other than simple prayer at night (84-85). All these practices turn home workers into “standardized products” for trade. Certainly, the book profits from a very detailed analysis of agencies, employers and government control over domestic

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