States and Migration Industries in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea
Title: States and Migration Industries in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea
Author: SURAK, Kristin
Series/Number: EUI MWP; 2011/12
Among the crescendo of calls for “systemic” approaches to the study of international migration, a small body of literature has emerged around what might be termed the migration industry, or the matrix of border-spanning businesses – labor recruitment, money-lending, transportation, remittance, documentation, and communication services that provide a vital infrastructure for going from here to there. Most work on the migration industry has viewed the state as an adjunct to the object of inquiry – while it may provide a supportive framework or inadvertently encourage the industry’s growth, the state has not yet been theorized as an active partner in its development. However, the East Asian democracies illustrate a range of configurations the state may assume as a partner in the development of migration industries in low skilled labor and marriage recruitment schemes: Taiwan evincing a stronger mix of neoliberal marketization, Japan holding to developmental state guidance, and South Korea oscillating between the two. These cases illustrate how the state may harness market competition to devolve sovereign control over labor migration flows to sub-state actors who, driven by the possibility of financial gain, carry out traditional state capacities. The state thus becomes an invested player in the migration industries channeling low-skilled flows, profiting both by saving resources that might otherwise be drained by migration policy enforcement, and as a fee-collector from licenses of entry into the game.
Subject: International migration; East Asia; developmental states; migration policy; migration industry
Early versions of this paper were presented at the Migration Industry Workshop, organized by the Danish Institute for International Studies and the University of California Los Angeles, April 13-15, 2011, and at the Migration Working Group at the European University Institute, San Domenico, Italy, February 23, 2011. The author would like to thank the workshop and working group participants for their incisive feedback.
Type of Access: openAccess