ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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​Migrant Labour and Mobile Sensibilities

Mobile media is intricately interwoven into the public and private lives of migrant workers, bringing together multiple, previously divergent functions.

Recently I found myself in the middle of an interesting situation. My mother’s domestic help had bought an expensive mobile phone for her teenage daughter; this left everybody flabbergasted. Even as I reluctantly argued that such attention to the life choices of migrant labourers (or anyone for that matter) was unwarranted, I reflected on the deep-seated inequalities in India. 

The first impression that privileged classes have of migrant labourers is of “outsiders” living in squalid shanties on the peripheries of the city. Hence, a strong sense of agency, resistance, and ambition on the part of poor labourers who migrate to urban metropolises to improve their quality of life is seen as a revelation. Mobile media is intricately interwoven into the public and private lives of migrant workers because it brings together multiple, previously divergent functions. The wide array of facilities made available by the media technologies in smartphones—audio and video content, global positioning system (GPS), mobile banking and other internet facilities—is useful for migrants to plot their course through the unregulated labour markets in urban spaces. The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent migrant exodus turned the spotlight on how migrant labourers, with their mobile phones, are using information and communications technology (ICT) facilities.

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Updated On : 1st May, 2021


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