"Can you help me top-up my mobile data?"
Abstract: In the globalised world, it is evident that mobile phones have the potential to empower migrant workers by making them feel more connected and providing access to information and services. Additionally, connecting to the Internet means not only social connection but also collective actions. Live-in migrant domestic workers (MDWs) in Singapore were selected as a case study because the nature of their work represents extremely social isolation while Singapore is an outstanding receiving country which has been reported on discrimination and abuse against MDWs. Following the fieldwork and in-depth interviews with 11 MDWs, this study aims to discuss how MDWs use mobile phones and the Internet to build and manage their community as well as to address their limited physical mobility. The findings reveal that mobile phones and the Internet have become a source of power for MDWs to negotiate the power with their employer and agency; however, the deficiency of digital literacies limits their ability to use digital technologies as much as it can be exploited. The study also highlights the interconnectedness between physical and virtual mobility since MDWs can combine their limited physical mobility and virtual mobility in order to reach to the resources which can enhance their migration journeys. The findings also lead to the discussion on Facebook which is substituted for phone numbers and Singaporean SIM cards to build and extent their social networks. Nevertheless, Facebook is utilised as a conservative and passive space since MDWs are afraid of being gossiped and concern about their left-behind family.
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