Research Activities

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  • Center for Gender Research and Social Sciences(CGraSS),Hitothubashi University -Link
  • International Migration and Gender, IMAGE

Current Projects

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Past Projects

Migrant Domestic/Care Workers in France, Italy and Germany: Labor Conditions, Institutional Frameworks and Status Claims

Head Investigator Ruri Ito (Professor, Hitotsubashi University)
Period FY 2009-2012
Funds Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (Category A: Overseas), JSPS

This research project aims to capture the extent of the influence of globalization in the sphere of reproductive labor, that is, labor which is directly concerned with the reproduction of the life, human-beings and labor. The project focuses on the international and ethnic division of reproductive labor in three European countries, France, Italy and Germany.
In France, Italy and Germany, there have been moves to socially recognize the value of domestic and care work and to promote the formalization of this work, during a time when these states have increasingly begun to rely on the migrant labor force for this work.

Key questions posed in this study are:
  1. How does an increasingly stronger presence of migrant labor influence the social recognition and formalization process of domestic and care work in these host societies?
  2. Conversely, how do the recognition and formalization of domestic and care work influence the status of (female) migrant workers?

Generally speaking, a strong presence of migrant labor is considered to worsen labor conditions of national citizens working in the same sector. This perspective has also been used in debating the role of migrants in care and domestic work, as in the case of migrant eldercare debates in Japan, where some take the view that the presence of migrant labor would deter the social recognition and formalization efforts for the whole sector. Taking a critical stance towards such (methodologically) nationalistic perspectives, this study aims to explore the ways in which diverse actors (trade unions, human rights associations, local workers, migrant workers, migrant networks, etc.) negotiate for the social recognition of reproductive labor within the context of globalization.

Method and Design

Based on these questions and the premises outlined above, we will conduct fieldwork in order to document and analyze the employment and labor conditions of migrant domestic and care workers as well as the institutional frameworks enabling or constraining these labor migrants in France, Italy and Germany. To this end, we have set up three thematic clusters:

  1. The collection of basic data concerning migrant domestic and care workers and the mapping out of the institutional frameworks that affect them at national and regional levels, with a particular attention to the linkage of immigration policy, labor market policy and social policy.
  2. The employment/labor conditions as well as the status of migrant domestic and care workers (fieldwork: local level)
    1. Working and living conditions of the migrants, family issues, migration and mobility networks, differentiation/hierarchization within migrant domestic and care workers
    2. The operation of agencies—human resource agencies, placement agencies, institutions offering domestic and care worker training courses
    3. The role of migrant organizations, associations, and supporting organizations for migrants
  3. Case study: Networks of Filipina and Filipino migrant domestic and care workers (a cross-country study)
Project Members & Associates
  • Eri CHURIKI, Wako University
  • Chiho OGAYA, Yokohama National University
  • Aya SADAMATSU, Keisen University
  • Yuko SONOBE, Kagawa University
  • Kyoko SHINOZAKI, Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Germany
  • Ewa KEPINSKA, Center of Migration Research, University of Warsaw, Poland
  • Risa TOKUNAGA, The Australian National University
  • Kayo NOMURA, doctoral student, Hitotsubashi University
Research Assistants
  • Kazuki MURAKAMI, doctoral student, Hitotsubashi University
  • Yoshimi TANABE, doctoral student, Hitotsubashi University
  • Minako SUZUKI, doctoral student, Hitotsubashi University

The Contradictions of Migration Policy Reform and Migrant Social Movements under Neoliberalism

Head Investigator Akihiro KOIDO (Professor, Hitotsubashi University)
Period FY 2008-2010
Funds Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (Category B: Overseas), JSPS


This research project aims to carry out a politico-sociological analysis focused on the contemporaneous emergence and development of debates on “Immigration Reform” and migrant social movements in the United States since 2005. In particular, the project will work towards an analysis which focuses on the reciprocal effects each of these two processes have on one another as a kind of inter-social group dynamic. In order to develop a solid political analysis of migration, the project will concentrate, on the one hand, on the structures of confrontation among political legislators of migration policy and, on the other, on the potential divergence of interests within migrant social movements. Furthermore, the project will consider the developing instance of the United States as a comparative example of the dilemma into which migration policy has been placed under worldwide trends towards neoliberalism. This project has been designed to develop the findings of a 2004-6 Japan Society for the Promotion of Science project concerning changes to immigration policy regulation.
Contemporary US migration policy and the politics of migration are at a substantial turning point. Within this, the greatest challenge which presents itself is how to deal with the issue of over 13 million “illegal” immigrants. In Spring 2005, the US Congress began to tackle this issue for the first time in nearly twenty years. However, due to the unfolding of an intense debate between hardliners appealing for the greater regulation of illegal immigrants and an opposing camp insisting on opening up a process through which the residential rights of illegal immigrants could be recognized and they gain legal status, these deliberations wandered repeatedly without resolution and even today, when over two years have passed since the debate began, there is still no conclusion in sight. From within the context of this stalemate, in Spring 2006, large-scale street demonstrations of up to several million migrants took place in the countries’ major cities. This was not only the largest scale social movement of recent years in the US, but due to the fact that it was illegal immigrants at the center of the movement – a demographic group which had up until now been thought of as apart from this kind of political activism – it had the effect of overturning people’s common understanding of the issues involved. In the background to this unprecedented movement was migrant’s refusal of the terms on which the Congress debate (which tended towards greater regulation) was taking place. Furthermore, at the center of this chaotic situation from 2006 to 2008, the Bush administration drove forward with a policy of strict regulation and the situation became ever more complex.

Why did this stalemate and increased confrontation over the issue emerge? Why did “illegal” immigrants and their families, whose participation in public activism for their legal status had been limited in the past, begin such a large-scale and abrupt movement for their rights? Today, while this movement has become quiet for the time being, under the surface, all kinds of activism continues. What is it that this activism aims for and what kind of organizations have emerged? What is the extent of their solidarity with wider society? Under what premise did the increasing investigation and regulation of migrants in the last years of the Bush administration take place and what kind of social effects did it produce?

Method and Design

In order to answer the above questions this project will carry out interview surveys with activist groups, policy legislators and Migration Studies researchers as well as interviews with migrants and migrant families who took part in the movement and demonstrations. It will;
Analyze the strategies of migrant organizations and support groups as well as the social structures which led to the mobilization of the large-scale nationwide immigrant movement of Spring 2006. It will do this through interviews with leaders and organizers of groups in Southern California (Los Angeles and San Diego), New York City and the surrounding area.
Attempt to understand the influence of the increased regulation of migrant activism through an analysis of interviews with various migrant groups and with migrants who were actually investigated and arrested, particularly with regards to the 2006-8 investigations into migrant workplaces and the sudden increase of arrests in the final years of the Bush administration. It will do so by looking at a). The spatial expansion and temporal development of the enforcement and regulation, b). The nature of the object outlined for investigation, and c). The effects on the incarcerated migrants and their families. The project will also perform an analysis concerning the multiple opposing forces involved in the policy reform debate and, with regard to any future developments – particularly in response to the establishment of today’s new administration as hopes are raised for immigration law reform and it is expected that general discussion of reform will be invigorated. The project will do this by examining the following; a). Strategies for reform among various interested groups, b). Structures of mobilization for migrants and their supporters, c). Interviews concerning possible immigration reform proposals with policy legislators and analysts in Washington DC and with migrant activist groups in New York and California.

Carry out an analysis based upon first-hand interviews with migrant families (whose members often have a variety of legal statuses) to examine their reactions to the impact of policy regulation and their expectations for reform.


Research Assistants
  • Satomi ERA, COE researcher, Tohoku University
  • Masako IWASAKI, doctoral student, Hitotsubashi University
  • Satoko HORII, doctoral student, Hitotsubashi University

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The Globalization of the Reproductive Sphere and the Reconfiguration of Gender in Asia

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A Sociological Analysis of United States Immigration Policy at a Crossroads: The Intensification of Immigration Policy since 9.11 and the Treatment of “Illegal” Migrants

Head Investigator Akihiro KOIDO (Professor, Hitotsubashi University)
Period FY 2004-2006
Funds Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (Category B: Overseas), JSPS
Outline and Aims

border patrol

The 2001 9.11 simultaneous multiple terrorist attacks have become a catalyst for both fundamentally reassessing and changing the direction of migration management policies in the United States. The aim of this project was to explain, sociologically, just how these new immigration regulations had been put into action and the effects they have had on the complex and manifold immigrant society of the US in a manner which overcomes the limitations of the kind of policy analysis that relies solely upon examining individual legal clauses and postulates. The project analyzed the processes of policy change from the following 4 perspectives: 1. An analysis of temporal changes made to the treatment of migrants over several years after the terrorist attacks, 2. An analysis of the Bush administration’s complete reorganization of immigration control bodies beginning with the Department of Homeland Security and the organizational structures which came into existence as a result, 3. An empirical analysis examining to what extent the changes to immigration control bodies were actually put into effect in concrete control and regulation practices in various regions throughout the US and, in particular, in the workplace, 4. Examining in what ways, as a reaction to this policy change, activism in these regions was organized in response.
When juxtaposed against the prevailing commonsense understanding of Migration Studies seen from an internationally comparative perspective, the changes which took place after 9.11 are worthy of attention. That is to say that, up until now, regulating “illegal” migration in the US has chiefly been carried out symbolically over national borders and efforts to actively exclude “illegal” migrants in the workplace or in daily civil life once they have entered the country have been extremely limited. This has resulted in the creation of an extensive “illegal” population. In response to this situation, and due to pressures exerted by the politics of large interest groups, while border controls have remained strict, policies became inoperative in the face of internal local demands and the activation of various regulations did not take place. This has resulted in the existence of an understanding of US immigration policy as having its own unique migration regime which could well be compared to that of Germany and other European countries. If policy changes introduced since 9.11 have been genuinely put into action in factories and other places of work throughout the country, then this can be said to be a clear deviation from conventional American-style immigration regulation and represent a fundamental turning point that demands both empirical examination and an analysis that includes important theoretical implications.
With these issues in mind we carried out an intensive local survey from October 2004 to August 2005 while at the Center for Migration and Development at Princeton University.  We continued this survey having the opportunity to travel to the US again in Spring 2006. The survey for this overseas project was structured according to the following three activities: 1) Interviews with affiliates of the Department of Homeland Security and an analysis of related source material, 2) Interviews with and observations of the activities of local immigration investigators, 3) Interviews with migrant organizations across a wide variety of regions concerning conditions on the ground and the reactions of these regional migrant groups to the new immigration regulations.
As a result of this survey we identified the following trends as significant points of change to immigration policy since the 9.11 terrorist attacks.
As part of the reorganization process of the bureaucracy into the Department of Homeland Security, the previous immigration authorities were separated into departments for immigration services and immigration investigation and enforcement. As a result of this separation, the latter department (known as the ICE, Immigration & Customs Enforcement) adopted an approach in which the self-justification of investigation and a focus on results above all else was emphasized. This has led to the formation of a new logic of regulation and control that goes over and above the actual intentions of individual policy legislators.
This intensification of immigration control has not developed in a similar manner across board. It was noted that Mexican migrants, who form the largest migrant group in the US, did not become the objects of investigation. It would be fair to say that stricter immigration controls were, in part, biased in the context of the War on Terror towards Muslim groups and other easily identifiable groups such as those with refused refugee status applications.

It became clear that it was both regional power structures and the mediation habits of regional authorities, acting upon macro-level organizational pressure for stricter immigration control, which defined the actual parameters of immigration investigation and policy enforcement. In large cities such as New York and Los Angeles, investigations into illegal immigrants were limited to a short period, partly due to the tremendous social efforts of migrants in these cities. In the suburban towns of New Jersey and in liberal University towns, however, investigations were hugely intensified.


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