Thinking Policy Through Migrant Domestic Workers’ Itineraries

Rachel Silvey, Rhacel Parreñas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This article summarizes key findings from our research on Indonesian and Filipino migrant domestic workers in the United Arab Emirates to reflect on their implications for policy. To illustrate the patterns we have observed, the article traces the migration biographies of two women, one from West Java and one from the Philippines, and it then asks what their experiences reveal about the policy landscape. We find, in concert with a large body of literature on social policy for migrants, that in many cases the policies that currently exist—and the gaps in these policies—are themselves central to producing the problems that migrant domestic workers face. Thus, we focus not on what states or international organizations can do in terms of policy improvements per se, but more generally on how the policy context is part and parcel of the broader social world that affects migrant workers’ welfare over the course of their migration biographies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)859-877
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


  • domestic work
  • gender
  • labor
  • migration
  • policy
  • transnationalism


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