A Confucian Case for Equal Membership for Foreign Domestic Workers

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Daniel A. Bell, a leading Confucian and communitarian political theorist, objects to equal membership to foreign domestic workers (FDWs) in East Asia on two Confucianism-inspired normative and practical grounds. Bell's core argument is twofold: first, that liberal-democratic demand for equal membership, despite its good intention, is likely to backfire, driving the current and potential FDWs into a far worse economic situation and second, that in a Confucian culture what is important is not so much justice but family-like affective relationships, which, in Bell's view, can be better fostered between employers and FDWs in the absence of equal membership. In this paper, I challenge Bell's two objections from a Confucian perspective by highlighting that the Confucian appreciates the value of equal membership both for intrinsic reasons, finding the unequal citizen status morally demeaning, as well as for instrumental reasons in terms of its contribution to one's moral self-cultivation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-129
Number of pages8
JournalGlobal Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Charlotte Chun, Joshua Cohen, Tae Wan Kim, Shaun O’Dwyer, Susan Shim, Sarah Song, and two anonymous reviewers of the journal. This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2017S1A3A2065772).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 University of Durham and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Law


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