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Journal article

From registered nurse to registered nanny: discursive geographies of Filipina domestic workers in Vancouver, B.C.




Geraldine Pratt


This paper is an exploration of what poststructuralist theories of the subject
and discourse analysis can bring to theories of labor market segmentation,
namely an understanding of how individuals come to understand and are limited in
their occupational options. I examine three discursive constructions of "Filipina"
and argue that they work to structure Filipinas' labor market experiences in
Vancouver. Filipinas who come to Canada through the Live-in Caregiver Program
often come with university educations and professional experiences (e.g., as registered
nurses) but then become members of the most occupationally segregated of
ethnic groups in Vancouver. As domestic workers in Vancouver, they are defined as
"supplicant, preimmigrants," as inferior "housekeepers," and, within the Filipino
community, as "husband stealers." I demonstrate that geography has much to bring
to discourse analysis; there are geographies written into discourses of "Filipina"
that work to position Filipinas in Vancouver as inferior. While the examined discourses
overlap and reinforce the marginalization of Filipinas, I also explore how
discursive analysis can function as ideology critique, by examining the internal
inconsistencies and silences within particular discourses and the points of resistance
that emerge when different discourses come into contact and tension.

Journal title

Economic Geography





Page numbers



Clark University

File Attachments


Economic sectors

Occupations in services - Domestic work

Content types

Policy analysis and Documented cases of abuse

Target groups

Policymakers, Researchers, Unions, and NGOs/community groups/solidarity networks

Regulation domains

Right to change employer, Labour standards, Newcomers integration programs, Access to permanent status, (Im)migrant workers selection criteria, and Right to equality (gender)

Geographical focuses

British Columbia

Spheres of activity

Economics, Geography, Management of human resources, and Psychology