Katie Kuschminder presents her paper 'Strong ties, weak ties and protection for domestic workers: Ethiopian domestic worker migration to the Middle East' in Parallel session IV(E) of the conference Examining Migration Dynamics: Networks and Beyond
Few comparisons have been made that examine the difference in migration outcomes for migrants that migrate via a strong versus a weak tie. This paper will contribute to this research area through an examination of Ethiopian female migration to the Middle East by using a network lens to compare migration via weak or strong ties. Domestic workers provide an interesting case for this analysis as they are vulnerable in their migration, and network supports can provide critical resources for the safety and security of the migrant and ensure an economic livelihood. The central hypothesis of this paper is two-fold: first that women with dense ties have greater opportunity to access migration due to their networks; and secondly that women migrating via strong ties would have the greatest opportunity for protection in the Middle East. Women migrating via weak ties, namely a migrant broker, would on the other hand, be less likely to have accurate information regarding migration, and secondly, be more likely to experience abuse in the Middle East. Migration via dense networks should allow for greater access to information and the ability for networks to assist an individual if needed. Migration via weak ties suggests that assistance is less likely to be available upon arrival. It is recognized that networks alone cannot determine the outcome of migration, and other issues such as legality in migration will be explored in the analysis. The paper will demonstrate that networks are not enough to protect migrants against the structural conditions in the Middle East.