Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Migration management, disciplinary power, and performances of subjectivity: Agricultural migrant workers’ in Ontario

Document type Article
Author Basok, Tanya
Author Belanger, Daniele
Journal Canadian Journal of Sociology
Volume 41
Date 2016
ISSN 1710-1123
Pages 139-164


Agricultural migrant workers, recruited to work in Canada under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP), are disciplined to be compliant and productive. Based on ethnographic data, we draw attention to several ways in which Spanish-speaking migrants, employed in agriculture in a rural community in Southwestern Ontario, respond to this disciplinary power. Most migrants discipline themselves and others to be productive and compliant workers. We refer to these acts as “performances of self-discipline.” At other times, some (albeit, few) migrants challenge this disciplinary power either individually or collectively. We refer to these performances of subjectivity as “performances of defiance.” Another way migrants may respond to the disciplinary power is by attempting to escape from it. Coining these performances “performances of escape,” we discuss how some agricultural migrant workers drop out of the program and remain in Canada without authorization. By turning attention to these performances of subjectivity, the article fills a gap in the literature on migration management and its disciplinary practices in Canada.