The Giving Up of Weekly Rest-Days by Migrant Domestic Workers in Singapore: When Submission Is Both Resistance and Victimhood. By: Schumann, Margaret Fenerty; Paul, Anju Mary. Social Forces. Jun2020, Vol. 98 Issue 4, p1695-1718. 24p.

Why do so few live-in migrant domestic workers (MDWs) in Singapore utilize their weekly rest-day entitlement? Using data drawn from 3,886 online profiles of prospective MDWs and 40 interview sessions with MDWs, employers, and manpower agencies, we demonstrate how the industry encourages a “logic of submission” around rest-days. Through processual analysis, we unearth multiple, repeated moments of capitulation at key moments in a MDW’s work-life: (1) their interactions with a recruitment agency while still in their home country; (2) their matching with an overseas employer; (3) the duration of their two-year contract; and (4) the time of contract renewal. Submission to less frequent rest-days can secure their employability and financial mobility but also further individuates the MDW within the employer’s household and may lead to the engraining of a habitus of submissiveness towards their employers that can open the door to workers’ exploitation. We demonstrate how nationality and work experience further inflect this logic of submission to motivate non-Filipina and inexperienced MDWs to request even fewer rest-days than their counterparts. By combining feminist migration scholarship on Asian MDWs, with a sociology of law analysis, we offer up an example of how the same act of submission can simultaneously embody both resistance and victimhood depending upon the temporal and spatial scale used, and varying interpretations of the rest-day benefit as a much-needed respite, a monetizable benefit, or a signaling mechanism.