On Migrant Workers’ Social Status in Taiwan: A Critical Analysis of Mainstream News Discourse

Hsin-I Cheng


It is estimated that around 20 million Southeast Asians work outside of their home country. In 1991, Taiwan first introduced about 3,000 migrant workers from Thailand. In mid-2015, there were approximately 579,000 migrant workers who came under the category of foreign laborers mainly from Southeast Asia. However, there is scarce research on representations of the south–south international migration. This study critically analyzes mainstream news discourse on migrant workers in Taiwan to discern their relations to their residing society. Four themes emerged: objectification of foreign laborers; differentiated and gendered marginalization; multilevel triangulations over migrant bodies; and imperialistic cultural attitudes toward migrant workers. Through omissions, inferences, and emphases on particular events in news reports, the migrant workers are in an impossible position to exist politically, economically, and culturally in Taiwanese society.


Asia, discourse analysis, migration, newspapers, social positions

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