Methodologies of Migration and Care Research at the Crossroads of Asia: What We Can Learn From Paired Interviews

Title: 1339 | Methodologies of Migration and Care Research at the Crossroads of Asia: What We Can Learn From Paired Interviews
Area: Southeast Asia
Stream: Geography
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Kellynn Wee, Asia Research Institute, Singapore (organizer, presenter, discussant)
Kristel Acedera, Asia Research Institute, Singapore (presenter, chair)
Jian An Liew, Asia Research Institute, Singapore (presenter)


While the labour of care and caregiving necessarily animates our world, it is still often a practice that is both unrecognised and undervalued. In Asia, care is a practice intimately linked to both migration and power: we outsource care to migrant women from other countries, rearrange conventional patterns of familial care when parents go abroad to work, and reconfigure care and parenting labour within highly mobile families who might split and reunite across time and space. This panel brings together scholars working on themes of paid and unpaid caregiving in Asia by foregrounding a methodology that has been used across all three projects: paired interviews. Also known as dyadic interviews or joint interviews, this methodology commonly refers to the process of interviewing two people at the same time in order to elicit co-constructed accounts about a particular topic. While this is a technique more often used in health research, the projects discussed in this panel applies the method to the discipline of geography. They extend the conventional use of this methodology by applying it across various care relationships that embody different power dynamics, including domestic worker/elderly care recipient; husband/wife; and caregiver/left-behind child of a migrant parent. What can paired interviews tell us about the relationality of care? How do paired interviews perform, reproduce or challenge presumed dynamics of power between the members of each pair? How do paired interviews foster accounts of convergence and/or conflict? Ultimately, this panel aims to extend conversations about the methodologies of migration and care research in Asia.

Panel Abstracts:
"Separate but Simultaneous": Compositing Individual Accounts of a Shared Migration Trajectory Within Migration and Family Research in Asia
Debates about the ethics and efficacy of joint couple interviews in understanding the marital relationship and how it affects the family have divided scholars. Some researchers argue that joint interviews with couples offer an important glimpse into negotiated decision-making processes and unveil a more textured account of the family. Others suggest that these accounts tend to favour marital parties with greater authority and suppress the disclosure of alternative accounts. One way that researchers have attempted to draw out the best of both methodologies is by engaging in what Rosanna Hertz (1995) calls “separate but simultaneous interviewing”, where both members of a couple are separately interviewed with the same set of questions. Drawing on a subset of interviews from a larger comparative project about the Australian, Indonesian, Singaporean and Chinese diasporas in Asia and the Pacific, this paper looks at the “separate but simultaneous” accounts of four married couples, all of whom have children, who have moved across countries. It asks three major questions: First, how do “separate but simultaneous” interviews as a methodology facilitate existing research on mobile, cosmopolitan and transnational families in Asia? Second, what does this methodology reveal about the constructions of the self in relation to broader socio-cultural scripts about trailing spouses, expatriate lives and citizenship in transnational family migration? Finally, what is the role and the ethical responsibility of the researcher in actively reconciling two accounts of a shared migration trajectory as opposed to analysing a single or joint interview perspective?

On Researching and Accessing "Digital Kinning": Reflections on Interviewing "Left-Behind" Young Adults and Carers of Digitally Connected Labour Migrant Families
This paper situates itself amidst the debates on the multidirectionality of care flows and the impact of digital technologies on long-distance relationships. Recent critical scholarships on the transnational family have highlighted the dynamic reconstitution of care across space and time, involving the careful orchestration of proximate and distant care. Due to the complexity and dynamism of these transnational care relations, many empirical studies have employed different qualitative methods—from focusing on the migrants who move, or the families who stay behind, or in a few cases, both. In this paper, we wish to explore the power dynamics involved in doing in-depth interviews with those who stay behind in an attempt to understand the underlying power dynamics that structure the reconstitution of care and digital kinwork in the homeland. Based on a longitudinal and mixed method research on the impact of migration on Filipino left-behind young adult children (n=25) and their carers (n=25), we examine the affordances and tensions of different care relationships. In particular, we reflect on the empirical findings and pay closer attention to how using a paired interview strategy has enabled or disabled different reconstructions of gendered care subjectivities. While exploring the power dynamics at play in unpaid care relationships between (kin) carers and young adult children, we ask, how are kin gendered power dynamics reflected and/or refracted by in-depth paired interviews?

Dyadic Pairs as Interview Method: Older Singaporeans & Their Foreign Domestic Workers
The aims of this paper are two-fold. First, we heed Hitchings & Latham’s (2019) advice to be more introspective towards oft-taken-for-granted methods used in the Social Sciences, particularly interviewing. Second, we urge scholars to consider paired interviews as a rewarding mode of data collection which has surprisingly received scant attention to date. Through our empirical study on older adults and their migrant caregivers in Singapore, we argue that paired interviews begets insights that conversing with just either half might not, especially on their outlook towards the ‘same’ event or phenomenon. In our research, we have employed several permutations of paired interviews – i) spatially-separate but temporally-concurrent interviews (sedentary); ii) spatially-separate and temporally-separate interviews (sedentary) and; iii) spatially- and temporally-concurrent interviews (mobile) – and each arrangement, albeit not always by choice, brings with them peculiarities that merit discussion. While we are advancing for paired interviews to be used more frequently, we also acknowledge that certain topics such as relations between the carer and cared for might be more aligned with the utility of a dyadic approach. Our key intent here is hence better thought of as generating critical reflections/conversations rather than introducing some kind of universal ‘methodological newness’

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