Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Demography, Social issues

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D). to Technological University Dublin in October, 2013.


The Philippines’ experience in international labour migration is widely considered a success – an observation endorsed by international bodies such as the World Health Organisation. As an active source of professional nurses to the developed world, the country continues to produce more nurses than the local nursing market can employ; a labour strategy that is promoted, facilitated and supported by the Philippine state and nursing educational system. This thesis interrogates Filipino nurse migration through the methodological prism of autoethnography, drawing on first-hand experience and reflexive accounts, interviews, photographs, policy documents and material cultural artefacts, to critically examine and challenge the country’s institutionalised migration regime. The thesis further argues that while the Philippines' culture of migration has been widely reported, understanding this complex phenomenon calls for further and deeper excavation of the social, cultural, political and historical processes that continually shape Filipinos' personal motives and desires. Situated within the fields of cultural studies, media studies and the interdisciplinary field of contemporary migration and diaspora studies, Licensed to Care comprises of an introduction and five chapters. Chapter one tracks the considerations that encouraged me to pursue an autoethnographic genre of writing about Filipino nurse migration by exploring the relationships between myself and my object of study; my life story and my ethnographic practices; and my personal desires, motives and experiences and those of my social actors. To find out how a culture of migration is effectively sustained in the Philippines, I examine the social, cultural and political circumstances of the country in chapter two. In chapter three, I turn my attention to the Americanisation of Philippine nursing education in order to examine the role of the Philippine nursing educational system in shaping the students’ desire to migrate, thus serving to reinforce the identity formation of the ‘global Pinoy’. Utilising the method of visual analysis, I unpack the way in which nursing is marketed through the aggressive use of marketing and advertising brochures in chapter four. In chapter five, I examine critically how several stakeholders cited in the migration literature – international organisations, governments, professional associations, trade unions and researchers – attempt to regulate the migration of nurses from the poorer regions of the world under the guise of an ‘ethical recruitment’ framework. Drawing from previous chapters, I problematise the concept of the brain drain phenomenon with specific reference to the experience of the Philippines as a source country.