The quantification of migrant labour from the Pacific : gender and the F....g Plaza
Wang, Dr Jenny; Hooper, Keith; Prescott, James; Goundar, Nadesa
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Citation:Wang, J., Hooper, K., Prescott, S., & Goundar, N. (2019, July). The Quantification of Migrant Labour from the Pacific: Gender and the F...g Plaza. Paper presented at the The 9th Asia-Pacific Interdisciplinary Research in Accounting Conference (APIRA 2019), AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/4792
Prescott and Hooper (2009) drew attention in their paper to the change for Pasifika workers having to adapt from a “commons” driven society to an “anti-commons” society. They showed how migrants coming from a task orientated society had to adapt very quickly to what the French writer Foucault (1977a) identified as a disciplinary regime characterised by measurement, and surveillance from invisible managers. Compare this with, for example, the task of fishing among an island community. Fishing depends on nature. The tides, currents, winds and weather must all be right there being no fixed time of starting. The leader works with those preparing the nets, rigging and launching the boat. It is a common effort and the proceeds of the catch are shared. Equality between women and men is a fundamental value. According to Koester (2015), “Gender is one of the most persistent causes, consequences and manifestations of power relations. Understanding gender can therefore significantly enhance our understanding of power and vice versa”. By contrast, migrant workers in New Zealand must adjust to an industrial society characterised by measurement and surveillance in workplaces where impersonal managers are driven by budgets and performance indicators. Western societies took over 200 years to gradually adjust to this change of lifestyle. Migrant Pasifika workers must adjust within months. That some do adjust so quickly is remarkable but many have difficulty and become stressed, while others drop-out harbouring feelings of social alienation. The latter part of this paper’s title refers to a conclusion drawn by a Thai migrant with poor English whose first job was to work as a cleaner in a shopping mall plaza. She got on well with her Pasifika co-workers but because they always referred to their workplace bitterly as “the F…..g Plaza” she thought that was the shopping mall’s real name. [...] The paper explains the mechanisms of modern industrial society, how it engenders alienation, and the view Pasifika people have of themselves and their relations with society. The paper is organised first, to explain the role of accounting in power and governance and how quantification transforms relationships. The following section links the disciplinary power of quantification with Foucauldian theory and shows how alienation engenders either docile acceptance or stressful resistance. Lastly in this section on the theoretical/background we discuss the mechanism of control by measurement. Following a Method section, the empirical section details the findings of our interviews with Pasifika workers RESEARCH QUESTIONS: 1. How does the work you do now differ from what you did in the Pacific? 2. Are cleaning skills important or is meeting the output expected more important? 3. What do you miss about work in the Pacific? 4. Do you think some workers are favoured by managers and why? 5. How much is there resistance to managerial expectations? 6. Is the work schedule demanding and is it possible to change the work schedule? 7. What problems are likely to be encountered at work?