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Australian Society In Global Context: Ethnicity And Race

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Discuss about the Australian Society In Global Context for Ethnicity and Race.



Australian Society in Global Context

The literature by Shanthi Robertson is based on how ethnic and cultural identities have been long produced in Australia and how Migrant workers are the new profiling. This analysis by Robertson shows that the migration status acts as an invisible, temporary marker in showing difference in status more than ethnicity and race.

The literature supports his position using the Korean women as the representatives of the formation on how migrants are reimaging and restructuring urban life. The author visits the Korean women and collected information from his opinion and what he saw. The advantages of this method is that it is firsthand information, and the author is able to form an opinion based on what is on the ground.  The author also uses migrant students and tourist migrants, through interview as a method for collection of information. Interviews are advantageous because they give detailed information, in regards to personal perceptions, feelings and emotions. The research specifically looks at immigration and transformation patterns in Australia. The given evidence is strong but inconclusive. In the research method, too much focus is given on the Korean women and not different sets of immigrants. The evidence is only focused on how the Korean women create certain patterns in the city but give less evidence on how different immigrants are profiled.

A key assumption made in the research is that migration status acts as an invisible, temporary marker in showing difference in status more than ethnicity and race. This is true because the status and the temporalities of such student and tourist workers is sometimes read by local workers as being transgressive. Their activities hold an ambiguous place in the cosmopolitan. Their leisure activities and their late- night services are essential in the activities of the cosmopolitan. Despite the ambiguity, their practices bring a disruptive difference to the cosmopolitan. These differences come into tension with the local versions of cosmopolitanism. The article focuses on the emerging labor mobilities. The literature analyses how the experiences of these immigrants reveal complex hierarchies in regards to identity and labor contestations within cosmopolitan sites. Robertson seems to give focus to time as a factor in immigration (Robertson 2016 p.42-45). The article also triggers the question as to the continued boundary making process and cosmopolitanism.


We further see the profiling based on immigration status through how the presence and experiences of these immigrants in the city are part of what has led to transformation of in how citizenship and immigration is governed. Consequently this has led to emphasis on temporary and transient migration forms in contrast with the post-war permanent-family migration programs. The profiling based on immigration shows that temporal migrants have already exceeded the permanent immigrants. Some visa schemes have categorized certain workers as temporary skilled workers, such as the 457 visa. Such categories are associated with tourist and student mobilities as opposed to laborers. The International Labor Office (IL0) temporary migration is more related to the labor market as opposed to permanent migration (Martin 2014 p. 87). This is an opposing view as we see visa arrangements are more concerned with worker movement and permanence as opposed to the labor market. Therefore, ILO research shows that the participation of temporary migration is greater compared to the participation of permanent setters (Martin 2014 p.87). Also, temporary work migration, is based more on demand and sponsors mostly nominate temporary positions. There is also a minimum wage to be paid to such temporary workers, and their migration is much more related to skill. The contributions of these migrant as workers, are hidden in Robertson’s view. There are also illegal and semi-compliant immigrants who may include those working outside their visas or have overstayed.

Another major clam by the author is that there is the production of cultural profiling. We see cultural profiling in the study carried out in Melbourne, which is Australia’s largest Ethni’cities’ is used in the study. The profiling occurs to temporalities and how they live. Student-workers and tourist –workers have a great impact in social –relationships in Australia and re-shaping the city. Major focus is given to how the temporalities operates with the different forms of living. There is particular focus on how these sets of immigrants differ from local urban residents and how they engage in the labor market. How these immigrants need to perform so as to remain in operation in these labor markets is also explored. This work looks at time as a factor which determines how migration is defined (as a social experience) and governed. There is also a focus on how new subjects in the Australian economies include tourist- workers and student-workers (Robertson 2016, p. 42).


Also we see profiling on immigrants because the city is the place where there is intersection of immigration and culture, the hence emergence of new social categories. These social categories transform the understanding of cities in regards to the history of immigration. Cosmopolitan city in the article is used to refer to the change processes. One of the assertions in the literature is that the temporary legal status and mobilities of immigrants shapes the labor economies of the urban areas. The status of such migrants are also different in terms of impact with those of permanent settlers. Such impacts differ in terms of the price of housing or how residential are formed. Specific consumption patterns and desires shapes how certain business grow. Accordingly, certain sites in the urban areas become places of great importance to some immigrants due to political agency in terms of the law and protection of the rights of the immigrants. Research also shows that temporary workers embody certain relationships thus leading to transformation within a certain space (Khonje 2015 p. 128).

As a consequence of cultural profiling, tourists and student workers have experienced barriers in their employment. Tourists and student workers could not be hired without student visas. Competence, racism and language barriers were among other barriers experienced by immigrants in Australia. Temporariness occupies a place of ambiguity in the labor market, although it is placed within a desirable place by the state due to its expandability (Toro-Morn 2013 p, 68). Temporary employees are beneficial to employers because of their exploitability as opposed to skills. Use of workers with temporary 457 visa is widely debated because the employees are at risk of exploitation while on the other hand Australia lacks sufficient domestic workers within a specified timeframe. Consequently, only casual labor is available to tourist and student workers. Such jobs include night-shift and weekend jobs.

Another consequence is the disadvantage due to such profiling. In the literature we see that tourist and student workers are often placed in certain temporal zones and they are segregated from permanent residents in the urban areas. The night shifts and the study sessions for students always leave them out of sync with the urban life. The migrants need to keep in touch with family and friends overseas, thus they have to stay up late chatting or keeping in touch with the relatives. The different schedules mean that the migrants and the locals conduct leisure and work at different times. This creates spatial distance thus making the student and tourist workers feel out of place. This is particularly true because, isolation and profiling is possible because, people of different social classes are in different places (Kuptisch 2014 p.157).


The work by Robertson is a good piece because it attempts to explain a new type of discrimination with the rise of temporary immigrant workers in Australia. However, the author fails to widely give an insight on the benefits if such workers to the Australian economy. Due to global demand for resources, Australia is predicted to move to a boom of resources. Therefore, with such demand, there is expected expansion which will drive major projects on infrastructure. Such projects will require skilled labor and workers. Australia is already facing shortage of workers in the construction and mining projects. The mismatches in the demand and supply of labor is further faced by challenges due to the challenge of the ageing workforce. Similarly, the author does not adequately discuss the possible benefits of such employment to business and perhaps how such employment impact the life experiences of the 457 workers (Pickering 2014 p.12).

It is a truism to assert that in the contemporary world, globalization has enabled the free flow of goods and services. However, labor movement remains contested. Advanced economies are in constant need of labors to fill unskilled and skilled positions. Admitting temporary skilled labor is unquestioned because they are valued by states in the competition for labor. On the other hand, temporary unskilled labor is greeted with ambivalence because they perform low status jobs. The presence of such unskilled labor arouses fears for loss of jobs by the locals and decline of conditions and wages.


Australia has a policy shift towards temporary migration to attract skilled labor. This reflects on the fact that temporary migration could be better suited in many ways to compete for skilled workers globally. Moreover, we see that most of the 457 employees decide to stay in Australia eventually. This can be part of migrants’ deliberate strategy so as to stay permanently. The advantages of temporary migration is that  there is no fee for training and when a contract comes to an end, those who are not needed can go back to their place of origin .


Literature on temporary skilled labor in Australia has majorly focused on transition to residence and labor market integration. Less attention has been given to the working conditions on migrants especially on arrival (Pine, 2014 p100). Due to complex Australian laws, it is hard to understand how regulations on employment maps into migrant workers categories. Labor regulation system is complex in that it inhibits complains even from the resident workers. Accordingly, there are additional complications because of the different entitlements due to employment status. Therefore, issues on transition to residence, working conditions and possible profiling should be well researched and dressed. ILO principles acknowledge the entitlements of non-citizens. The international gap which is identified by the ILO should be enforced by national migration governance which are state-based, leaving temporary –migrants vulnerable. The practices and authorities ought to be sensitive regarding transitional lives of the migrant communities, and the changing migrant patterns in relation to labor.



Berg, L., 2015. Migrant Rights at Work: Law's Precariousness at the Intersection of Immigration and Labour. Routledge.

Duval, D.T. ed., 2014. Tourism in the Caribbean: trends, development, prospects. Routledge.

GRANDE-BRETAGNE. (2015). The economic impact of immigration: 1st report of session 2007-08 : ordered to be printed 18 march 2008 and published 1 april 2008. London, Stationery Office.

KHONJE, W. H. (2015). Migration and development: perspectives from small states.

KUPTSCH, C., & PANG, E. F. (2014). Competing for global talent. Geneva [u.a.], Internat. Inst. for Labour Studies [u.a.].

Martin, P.L., 2014. Competing for global talent: The US experience. Competing for global talent, p.87.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2013. International mobility of the highly skilled. OECD Publishing.

Pickering, S. and Ham, J., 2014. The Routledge handbook on crime and international migration. Routledge.

Pine, F., 2014. Migration as hope: space, time, and imagining the future. Current Anthropology, 55(S9), pp.S95-S104.

Robertson, S., 2016. Student-workers and tourist-workers as urban labour: temporalities and identities in the Australian cosmopolitan city. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 42(14), pp.2272-2288.

Toro-Morn, M.I. and Alicea, M. eds., 2013. Migration and immigration: a global view. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Yniguez, B., Ivy, N., Janis, N. and Earnest, N., Alumni US. University of California, Berkeley, 1993, p.2020. 

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