Journal: International Migrant Workers’ Use of Mobile Phones to Seek Social Support in Singapore


International Migrant Workers’ Use of Mobile Phones to Seek Social Support in Singapore

by Arul Chib, Holley A. Wilkin, and Sri Ranjini Mei Hua


International migrants often need social support to deal with an unfamiliar environment and reduce stress caused by prevailing attitudes in their host country, as well as that induced by distance and separation from their family. This study investigates whether mobile phones facilitate or inhibit migrants’ ability to seek the social support needed to reduce the stress they experience in their host country. Further, gender differences are examined and discussed. A quantitative survey of men (n 56), primarily Bangladeshis working in blue-collar occupations, and women (n 60), primarily Filipina domestics, was conducted in Singapore. For women, mobile use alleviated stress by increasing social support; emotional support had the greatest impact on their psychological well-being. Male migrant workers were more likely to experience stress the more they used their mobile phones and when receiving increased emotional support. This finding is in contrast to traditionally held assumptions about the beneficial impacts of mobile phones. We caution against treating immigrants as a homogeneous group, and recommend inclusion of variables such as gender to understand the role of technology-mediated social support in alleviating migrant stress. We further propose that policies and programs facilitating transnational communication for low-income migrants need to be examined carefully in terms of their unintended impacts.

Learning points:

  1. Migration stress that Migrant Workers face is related to:
  • Poor mental health that manifests in anxiety, depression, apathy, feelings of isolation.
  • Homesick and loneliness.
  • Discrimination in workplace and society.
  • Financial constraints on social and self-improvement activities.
  • Interpersonal relationship issues.
  • Language barrier.
  • Financial difficulties.

*I need to pin down one issue that I will work on.

2. Despite many organizations that are available to help migrant workers, such as Transient Workers Count Too and HOME, the migrant workers can’t access the service due to restrictions enforce by their employers or a general lack of awareness.

3. Bangladeshi construction workers are more difficult to integrate to the society due to their coming from lower socioeconomic brackets and not a good command of English. They are commonly known as “unskilled” manual laborers.

* They might be my main subject of research.

Assignment 6: Thoughtful Interaction Design


CH 1 from Jonas Löwgren and Erik Stolterman, Thoughtful Interaction Design

To handle the complex nature of interaction design, a designer needs to be thoughtful. Interaction design is complex because it is dealing with digital artifacts which is evolving rapidly. This chapter argues that reflecting on this rapid changes to find reflective position is essential. It becomes designer’s responsibility to ask a question what is a good design and what is a bad design.

A good design depends on the context. Who use it and what’s its relation with the environment. Hence, it’s relative, and continuously needs to be redefined. A designer should develop her judgment muscles to define what a good design is.

A designer’s job is to challenge status quo. She is a problem solver who wants to make this world a better place. As designing is also an ethical matter, she should discern whether to grant all of her client’s wish or not if it will affect the societal goal negatively.

As a follow up to this reading, I have found a video by the author. This video contains his view about sketching to do exploration, doing execution as a form of sketching, and doing exploration (while working with experts).

At the last part, he mentioned that for collaborative art, the work will just begin after the product is launched. He gave an example of a group of students in Sweden hijacking mannequins on fashion stores. They modified the mannequin to look like a human being, dressed it, and put it back to the store display. This work, then, foster a discussion about our distorted perception of women.

I think that these excerpts and video will help me outlining what I should be doing for my FYP process:

  1. Sketching the solution, making prototypes for people to test out
  2. Explore the possibilities of the outcome, working side by side with the experts of the migrants: researchers, activists, and the migrants themselves
  3. Continue the project beyond this 1 year period of FYP, making real changes in the society.

1. In Singapore, which type of company will hire this kind of thoughtful designer who can really make changes in the society? Maybe because so far, I have only worked as a graphic designer, my job scope is pretty limited to creating visuals on the screen, I can’t really see the impact of my works..

2. How to deal with difficult client who do not understand the need of creating the best solution amidst any obstacle? What if he/she only cares about his/her personal goal without thinking about the society it will give impact to?

Rapid Growth in Singapore’s Immigrant Population Brings Policy Challenges


This is a more comprehensive overview of migration in Singapore: low-skilled foreign workers, high-skilled foreign workers, foreign students, emigration from Singapore.

Ongoing Issues, Challenges, and Social Change

Having greatly liberalized its borders in the past few years, it is not surprising that Singapore’s migration reality has become more complex. The influx of large numbers of new immigrants into the city-state seems set to continue, even as emigration accelerates and fertility rates fall to a new low (1.15 children per female in 2010, down from 1.60 in 2000). In this context, attracting skilled foreigners to live, work, and settle — while keeping low-skilled workers under thumb — will likely remain a priority for the foreseeable future.

With the prospect that increased immigration could bring new challenges to Singapore socially, the government is working hard to maintain a state of harmony within what is already a multicultural nation. In several high-profile ministerial speeches in 2011, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day rally speech as well as former-Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s recent reminders about the nation’s reliance on immigrants for growth, Singaporeans were encouraged to take a long-term view; continue to welcome talent; and, at least for a while, to “accept the discomfort” of having more foreigners around. While not expected to relinquish their cultures and languages, immigrants have been urged to participate in local events so that they can learn more about the traditions of their adoptive communities.

In 2009, Singapore’s National Integration Council was established to promote interaction and national solidarity between locals and newcomers. Notably, a S$10-million (U.S. $7.95-million) Community Integration Fund was created to sponsor activities that foster bonds between Singaporeans and immigrants. Additionally, 2011 saw the launch of the Singapore Citizenship Journey, an enhanced orientation program for new citizens comprised of online elements, field trips to heritage sites, and community sharing. The People’s Association, which appoints “Integration and Naturalization Champions,” further engages new citizens through home visits, grassroots activities, and community work.

Social integration is, however, far from smooth on the ground. To some locals, newcomers — particularly the ubiquitous Mainland Chinese — are commonly seen as uncouth and prone to objectionable behaviors like littering, eating on public transit, and talking loudly on the phone. Similarly, South Asian construction workers and Filipino domestic workers have also been singled out as targets of public backlash. With criminal activity rising, including several high-profile murders in mid-2011, foreigners have also been blamed for the deterioration of public safety in Singapore.

Immigrants have responded with their own set of rejoinders. A spate of online disputes in 2011 involving Mainland Chinese immigrants ridiculing Singaporeans as “ungracious,” “disgusting,” and “inferior” reveals the extent of social discord despite the state’s efforts toward immigrant integration. In August 2011, an immigrant family from China went so far as to lodge a complaint against their Singaporean-Indian neighbors for the smell of curry emanating from their cooking. In response, a Facebook page urging Singaporeans to prepare curry on a designated Sunday drew over 57,600 supporters. Ironically, Singaporeans of different ethnicities have become more united in this time of discord with immigrants.

Another point of contention relates to the belief that immigrants compete with Singaporeans for jobs. While the state insists that only jobs unfilled by citizens are assumed by foreigners, the government is still frequently criticized for not curtailing the uptake of managerial and professional positions by non-Singaporeans. Suspicions that the labor market is giving preferential treatment to the foreign born — described as “cheaper” and “harder-driving and harder-striving” than Singaporeans — are not helped by certain official statements. In particular, unemployment figures are routinely published as an aggregate comprising citizens and PRs, which obfuscates the actual unemployment rate among Singaporeans.

Paradoxically, a more tolerant side of Singapore emerges when it comes to the rights of unskilled and low-skilled foreign workers. Civil-society action has sought to address the adverse working conditions of foreign-born domestic workers — about 200,000 in Singapore today, mostly women and mainly from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka — since the early 2000s. Many have benefited from the social and advocacy support offered by nongovernmental organizations like Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics and Transient Workers Count Too. Not only have these groups raised public awareness about the plight of foreign domestic workers, state agencies are now more inclined to attend to cases of abuse.

Similar help has also been extended to the other 670,000 work-permit holders. Some issues being addressed include workplace safety, wage and foreign-levy policy, accommodation standards, and the regulation of unsafe truck transport for migrant workers.

While their efforts are comprehensive in scope, the success of civil society in Singapore remains tied to the will of a strong state. Foreign-born domestic workers, for instance, have long been deprived of regular days off as part of their employment. This particular aspect of domestic work will change beginning January 2013, when a new law mandating days off will take effect. But such extended, hard-fought battles highlight the difficulty that advocacy groups face in lobbying within a depoliticized space. They also hint at how citizens’ distrust towards immigrants can further rigidify officially sanctioned surveillance curbs on foreign workers.

In sum, as Singapore comes of age in its development, new opportunities and problems have once again opened up the former colonial city to mobilities. While Singapore has long depended on external resources to satisfy its needs — for its workforce, jobs, education, talent, and even marriage — the country’s goal to augment its population today presents much more complex risks, uncertainties, and challenges, often exacerbated by inconsistent policy outcomes. Indeed, the streams flowing through the highly globalized city have become decidedly more turbulent in recent years. With wisdom, perhaps the nation’s political leaders can weather the storm that is now brewing.

Feelings of home amongst Tamil migrant workers in Singapore’s Little India


Feelings of home amongst Tamil migrant workers in Singapore’s Little India by Wajihah Hamid


Low-wage Tamil migrant workers have long been contributing to Singapore’s economy. Despite labouring there for three decades and being connected to the existing Tamil diasporic community in Singapore, they have been left out of both state rhetoric and society, often due to claims of transience. However, a fatal traffic accident in the locality of Singapore’s Little India in December 2013 involving a Tamil migrant worker that morphed into a riot has again brought the problems of these men and their presence within the vicinity of Little India to the fore. This paper is based on a wider ethnographic study of a group of Tamil migrant workers from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu who were working in Singapore in 2012. The homely feelings experienced by the migrant workers highlight their feelings of homesickness vis-à-vis the need for a sense of belonging felt amongst transnational male migrant workers. On the other hand, practices that make the space unhomely for them not only illustrate their social position but will also lead to to the study of the governmentality of migration and control of migrant bodies.

Keywords: Tamil migrant workers, Singapore, Little India, transnational home, policing, governmentality


Journal: Stranger Danger: Explaining Women’s Fear of Crime



Using logistic regression techniques with the Canadian Violence Against Women Survey, this paper examines the effects of demographic characteristics, previous experience with victimization, and risk management and avoidance behaviors on fear of crime. Results indicate higher explanations of variance are largely attributed to women having had negative experiences with strangers. Negative experiences include being followed, receiving unwanted attention, and having received obscene phone calls. One implication of this study is that women fear “stranger danger” most, and they are more likely to be acutely aware of danger when there are unknown men nearby. Further implications of the supposed paradoxical relationship between stranger danger and actual victimization risk are discussed.

Journal: Happy People Become Happier through Kindness: A Counting Kindnesses Intervention


The peer-reviewed Journal of Happiness Studies is devoted to scientific understanding of subjective well-being. Coverage includes both cognitive evaluations of life such as life-satisfaction, and affective enjoyment of life, such as mood level. In addition to contributions on appraisal of life-as-a-whole, the journal accepts papers on such life domains as job-satisfaction, and such life-aspects as the perceived meaning of life.
The Journal of Happiness Studies provides a forum for two main traditions in happiness research: 1) speculative reflection on the good life, and 2) empirical investigation of subjective well-being. Contributions span a broad range of disciplines: alpha-sciences, philosophy in particular; beta-sciences, especially health related quality-of-life research; and gamma-sciences, including not only psychology and sociology but also economics.
The journal addresses the conceptualization, measurement, prevalence, explanation, evaluation, imagination and study of happiness.

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Paying it Forward by Sandi Mann


About the Book

One woman’s experiment to understand how the power of giving without reward can change lives.

Random acts of kindness campaigns are increasingly popular as we look to kindness to strangers as a means to create a kinder and more caring society. For 14 days, Dr Sandi Mann, from the University of Central Lancashire, carried out her own ‘paying it forward’ challenge, handing out free chocolate, coffee, umbrellas and more in the hope that her generosity would inspire others to carry forward more random acts of kindness. The results surprised her.

Review by David Robson

Generous people are happier and healthier, yet acts of kindness are often met with suspicion and scorn.

Possible books to be read about KINDNESS



Caspar Hare presents a novel approach to questions of what we ought to do, and why we ought to do it. The traditional way to approach this subject is to begin by supposing a foundational principle, and then work out its implications. Consequentialists say that we ought to make the world impersonally better, for instance, while Kantian deontologists say that we ought to act on universalizable maxims. And contractualists say that we ought to act in accordance with the terms of certain hypothetical contracts. These principles are all grand and controversial. The motivating idea behind The Limits of Kindness is that we can tackle some of the most difficult problems in normative ethics by starting with a principle that is humble and uncontroversial. Being moral involves wanting particular other people to be better off. From these innocuous beginnings, Hare leads us to surprising conclusions about how we ought to resolve conflicts of interest, whether we ought to create some people rather than others, what we ought to want in an infinite world, when we ought to make sacrifices for the sake of needy strangers, and why we cannot, on pain of irrationality, attribute great importance to the boundaries between people.