Migration, precariousness, and the linked lives of newcomers in Hong Kong

Adrian J. Bailey*, Rainbow Wing Yan Ng, Katherine Hankins, Stephan De Beer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


We develop the concept of linked lives to deepen understanding of the relationship between migration and precarity. Linked lives and precariousness are mutually constitutive as they embed subjects in the social, spatial, and temporal relations of everyday life while referencing transitions, trajectories, and biographies that unfold through the life course. Studying linked lives draws attention to how cumulative social and cultural processes, including familyhood and belonging, contribute to the persistence of precarity. On the basis of 64 qualitative interviews with selected newcomer migrants in Hong Kong, we describe how precariousness was not just restricted to exploitative employment or limited rights but enveloped multiple domains of everyday life, including housing and social fields. Respondents associated precariousness with feelings of generalised pressure and disrupted spacetimes and connected it with their expectations for familyhood, employment, social life, and belonging. We argue that the mutual constitution of precariousness and linked lives has important implications for social policy and close with a call for the creation of resourceful spacetimes that support linked lives and, more widely, a more participatory process of formulating social policy for migrants.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2400
JournalPopulation, Space and Place
Issue number2
Early online date26 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development

User-Defined Keywords

  • belonging
  • China
  • legal status
  • life course
  • migration
  • precarity


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