Technologies of Surveillance: An Intersectional Analysis of Undocumented Caribbean Women Care Workers in the Labour Markets in Canada and the U.S.

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Immigrant care workers play a considerable role in filling the gaps in care systems in the Global North. In this context, care work is increasingly stratified by gender, race, and immigration status, and racialized undocumented immigrant care workers occupy the lowest rung of the ladder in almost all cases. This study explores how government processes in the form of immigration regulation and surveillance affect the labour market participation and outcomes of undocumented immigrant women care workers from the Caribbean. The study focuses on the role pre-employment screening is playing in the management of undocumented Caribbean women care workers within the labour force in the U.S. and Canada. The study uses qualitative multi-level analysis to demonstrate the ways in which the local and relational experiences of the employers and undocumented care workers result from the matrix of domination embedded within the immigration and care work regimes. Interpretive policy analysis of [imm]ployment law at the macro level shows that governmentality practices sort immigrants into discrete categories for surveillance and control, resulting in marginalization and exploitation for those categorized as temporary, deportable, and undeserving. Analysis of 12 semi-structured interviews of care worker employers reveals that in addition to engaging in surveillance through preemployment screening of potential care workers, employers in the formal care market are also subjected to discipline and surveillance. Employers in the informal care market likewise engage in pre-employment screening, but their processes for hiring are more dependent on affective criteria and cultural matching. An analysis of 18 semi-structured interviews of undocumented care workers shows the ways the macro level immigration and employment laws, as well as the meso level employer practices, intervene in the lives of the undocumented care workers and engender their exploitation and marginalization through disciplining and techniques of the self. Using the extended case method, the study also finds three extensions of system avoidance theory based on the system avoidance practices and processes of the care workers. Beyond system avoidance practices, the study found that surveillance on the labour market disciplined the care workers into accepting exploitation.
Thomas, C. O. (2023). Technologies of surveillance: an intersectional analysis of undocumented Caribbean women care workers in the labour markets in Canada and the U.S. (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from