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Citizens and Foreign Workers in Singapore: From the Perspective of the Neo-plural Society

Sun, June 26, 10:30am to 12:20pm, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 117


The neo-plural society is a newly developing concept in the age of globalization. With reference to the classic concept of the plural society, it looks into the relations between nationals/citizens and foreign workers. This paper looks at the experience of Singapore and focuses on the “division and contact ” relationships between the nationals/citizens and foreign workers as a case study.

Singapore is one of the major labor receiving countries in Asia. For a long time, it has been receiving many foreign workers and managing an organized foreign labor policy. The working and residing status of foreign workers is strictly defined by the skill level, income, and so on; in fact, the Singaporean government has regarded most foreign workers (excluding the highly-skilled) as temporary stayers. On the other hand, many foreign workers do not necessarily intend to stay as a permanent resident or take up citizenship in Singapore, either.

There are the division and (limited and partial) contact relationships between the nationals/citizens and foreign workers politically, socially and culturally as well as legally and economically. Such multi-faceted relationships is not static and shaped and influenced by several actors; the Singapore government, the labor-sending country governments, regional and international organizations, companies, agents, NGOs, Singaporean nationals/citizens, foreign workers, and so on. The paper examines such “division and contact” relationships between Singaporean citizens and foreign workers and the “sustainable” conditions of such relationships based on the literature research and the interviews.