Scholars have noted lamentable conditions of female migrant workers (Abu-Habib,1998; Adib & Guerrier, 2003; Bauder, 2005; Bauder, 2008; Frantz, 2008; Sassen, 2000). Migrant workers suffer several types of citizenship disabilities as most countries do not extend equal citizenship rights and protections to them (Walia, 2010). Relatedly, because of low cultural and social capital, they are unable to take full advantage of whatever rights are available to them in the host country (Bustamante, 2002). Women are further exploited as cheap and docile labor (Elson & Pearson, 1981; Mills, 2003). In addition, studies have emphasized how breakdown of the traditional economy and the penetration of market in the developing societies have forced people, especially from rural areas, to seek low-paying dead-end jobs in the global labor market (Castles, 2013). Examining Nepali domestic workers in New Delhi, we mostly agree with the existing studies but, based on our study of micro-dynamics between employers and employees, we also bring to notice the fact that migrant female workers are not always passive victims and that they exercise considerable choice and agency. We do not, however, mean that they exercise some freewheeling agency. Macro forces as well as their biographical capital, rooted in their past experiences, the particular stage of their life cycles and entrenched “habitus,” affect their choices, agency and strategies (Bourdieu, 1990; Bourdieu, 2002 ). As social scientists have long argued, neo-classical economic theories, which depict labour market as atomistic and perfectly competitive, do not capture the nuances of the actually existing labour market. They instead argue that the labour market is profoundly gendered, ethnicized, castecized, and racialized (Adib & Guerrier, 2003; HarrissWhite, 2005; Mills, 2003; Ridgeway, 1997; Ridgeway, 2009; Ridgeway et al. 2009; Thorat & Neuman, 2012). At the broader theoretical level, therefore, this study aims to understand the cultural underpinnings of labour market and its consequences for different actors and institutions. The micro-dynamics also help us understand the durability and reproduction of different forms of inequality, since the agents draw on and contribute to the structural and cultural forces that they are enmeshed in. As has been observed in the West, the Middle East and the rising East Asian economies, India has witnessed the rise of the phenomenon of household domestic workers DOI: https://doi.org/10.3126/dsaj.v12i0.25960 Received: 17/10/2019...Accepted: 16/12/ 2019
C. Basnet, Sandhya A. S.
Dhaulagiri Journal of Sociology and Anthropology