When Outsider becomes Insider: Contradictions of Transnational Home-Helping Regime in Ageing Asia

Foreign home helpers (FHH) make changes for caring the aged in East Asia, not least when an outsider becomes an insider under the same roof. Home-helping becomes a transnational social policy issue: over 230,000 FHH are working in Kong Kong, whilst Taiwan employs around 150,000 FHH to serve the frail aged; Japan experiments it too. A new regime of transnational care is possible as flexible labour regime and income differentials in East Asia enable FHH to take care of the elderly -- due to (female) labour shortage and the preferred caring for the elderly at home; the import of guest nursing/domestic helpers becomes an attractive policy options in some Asian societies. It is also an extended form of filial piety subcontracting that FHH serve the aged 24-hour as they live-in, paralleling the 24-hour global production regime under globalization! Socio-culturally, the "outsourcing" and "sub-contracting" of the traditional custom, filial piety (FP, respect and taking care of the seniors), confirms the change of home care regime in 21st Century. FHH are the main carriers for the (withering) cultural virtue of FP, yet they are the manifestation of the contradictions in hyper-modernizing Asia: as migrant workers, they are at best a nomadic sub-class in terms of social citizenship following T.H.Marshall's evolutionary conceptualization on social citizenship from the political and civil ones. But the demand for guest workers' FP-compatible job performance is contradictory to the nomadic social (sub-)citizenship (of minimal social inclusion) - FHH are both outsiders and insiders for the socio-cultural norms (filial piety) making! Examining the implications of a flexible labour regime for caring ageing society and the emergence of new, nomadic, sub-classes of social citizenship and temporal residency, in a globalizing world, this paper provides illustrations from East Asia to highlight the contradictions of transnational regime of home helping.

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