Exploring the Techniques of Disciplinary Power: The Management of the Low-Income Migrant Worker along the Asia-Abu Dhabi Migration Corridor

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Michael Cowen


The management of south-to-south workers' migration and their lives remains an important issue in many circles as hundreds of thousands of these low-income migrant workers are often 'positioned' in precarious economic and social situations. This thesis develops a Critical Management Studies (CMS) focus to show that there are inherent power disparities and potential for worker exploitation in these practices. Based on an ethnographic study of the Asia to Abu Dhabi migration corridor this thesis explores the techniques of disciplinary power in the management of the low-income migrant worker. This thesis demonstrates that the low-income migrant worker is a deeply subjugated subject who is disciplined to live a responsible life of docility and work, and where his/her 'life' is deferred until they return home on vacation, or return at the end of their contract. There is also evidence of a 'diagram of power' that I term the Carceral Net, in which the techniques of disciplinary power are found to be juxtaposed with sovereign, social/juridical, and security technologies of power. However, despite the tight grip of the Carceral Net, there is a unique form of support that emerges through a localised set of daily practices where the worker (within interstitial spaces) strives to cope with life, and live life with his/her X-Family.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date31 Dec 2018