Sunday, March 16, 2014

In what ways do Filipino migrants overcome the disadvantages of “illegality” to produce practical benefits?

One of the practical benefits achieved by Filipino migrants despite “illegality” is the accumulation of savings.  One paradox in irregular migration is how or why migrants stubbornly persist amidst adversarial conditions in host countries.  Current explanations cite either the preeminent demand for compliant labor or the tenacity of the migrant that single-handedly wills survival.  Both explanatory approaches obscure important, enlightening details inherent in the unrelenting complexity that is human mobility.

This section will explore how Filipino overstayers in Japan negotiate thru various situations as they attempt to realize the single biggest objective for persisting on without legal status: economic security.  Stated simply:  How do Bilogs  save?

I use the term “savings” to refer to monies accumulated over and above cash remitted to dependents for their monthly sustenance.    My reflections on bilog savings are culled mainly from in-depth analyses of the economic security variable of four cases of Filipinos with a combined total of forty eight years as bilogs in Japan.

In the first section, I distill the central issue in tackling the subject of bilog savings.  Citing the limitations of two current explanatory modes, I suggest that a critical realist approach may be more effective in clarifying the constitution of “bilogness” among the social processes in which it is embedded.

Empirical data is then presented in the next two sections.  I compute the total income of the four bilog cases during their Japan tenure, establishing the baseline from which savings emerge.  I describe the lifestyle choices that ultimately translate to expenses which, in turn, bear down on surplus income.  At this point, I expound on the peculiar situations faced by the four respondents as they earn and expend monies by employing the concept of relational emergence in critical realism.  I conceptualize “bilogness” as an emergent whole since particular processes, and the relations between and among them, constituting bilog savings do not exhaustively account for outcomes empirically observed.
However, arguing a relationally emergent “bilogness” is incomplete without considering the impact of structure, culture and people within temporality given that the empirical data presented applies to a specific timeframe.  I thus employ the morphogenetic approach (Archer 1995) in interrogating the emergence of the bilog breadwinner (enabled by bilog savings).

I conclude by culling out two ways that “bilogness” impacts migrants savings and by distilling the essential bilog savings process.

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