Title: Experiences of forced labour amongst Chinese migrant workers: exploring the context of vulnerability and protection

Authors: Rebecca Lawthom; Carolyn Kagan; Sue Baines; Sandy Lo; Sylvia Sham; Lisa Mok; Mark Greenwood; Scott Gaule

Addresses: Research Institute for Health and Social Change, Elizabeth Gaskell Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University, Hathersage Road, Manchester, M13 0JA, UK ' Research Institute for Health and Social Change, Elizabeth Gaskell Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University, Hathersage Road, Manchester, M13 0JA, UK ' Research Institute for Health and Social Change, Elizabeth Gaskell Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University, Hathersage Road, Manchester, M13 0JA, UK ' Wai Yin Chinese Women Society, 66 Swan Street, Manchester, M4 5JU, UK ' Wai Yin Chinese Women Society, 66 Swan Street, Manchester, M4 5JU, UK ' Wai Yin Chinese Women Society, 66 Swan Street, Manchester, M4 5JU, UK ' Wai Yin Chinese Women Society, 66 Swan Street, Manchester, M4 5JU, UK ' Research Institute for Health and Social Change, Elizabeth Gaskell Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University, Hathersage Road, Manchester, M13 0JA, UK

Abstract: This paper reports on a research project (funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, UK) which explored the experiences of forced labour amongst Chinese migrant workers in the North West of England. The explicit use of a community psychology approach enabled a working collaboration with a Chinese Social Enterprise (Wai Yin). The research focused on how workers dealt with their experiences leaving China, working in the UK and in relation to social support (relationships and families). The research involved working with Chinese native speakers and gatekeepers to access narratives of workers. Many of these were undocumented (illegal) workers who were seeking asylum. Thematic analysis was undertaken alongside collection of vignettes of individuals. The emotional aspects of moves between countries and cultures, and the balance between risk and protection are richly demonstrated, yet not dwelt upon by participants. The experiences of workers, their vulnerability to forced labour are theorised in terms of push and pull factors around leaving China, the importance of family and working in the UK. We note the absence of emotional articulation in the accounts, where sense-making of their situation is achieved pragmatically.

Keywords: forced migration; vulnerability; exploitation; slavery; emotional containment; UK; United Kingdom; China; forced labour; Chinese migrants; migrant workers; immigrants; protection; community psychology; social support; relationships; families; illegal workers; asylum seekers; emotion; culture; risk; sense-making; pragmatism.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWOE.2013.055905

International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion, 2013 Vol.5 No.3, pp.261 - 280

Received: 08 May 2021
Accepted: 12 May 2021

Published online: 12 Aug 2013 *

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