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Chapter 4 Deprofessionalisation and Informality in the Market for Commoditised Care

Transnational Migration, Gender and Rights

ISBN: 978-1-78052-202-9, eISBN: 978-1-78052-203-6

ISSN: 2041-806X

Publication date: 6 March 2012


This chapter discusses the employment of migrant women to work as ‘nannies’ in private homes in the United Kingdom.1 The term nanny has been used in the United Kingdom to denote a ‘qualified childcare professional’ (Cox, 2006; Gregson & Lowe, 1994). In this chapter, however, I argue that in 2010 it also referred to a form of deprofessionalised unqualified childcare provided in private homes across the United Kingdom. Migrant women have long been over-represented in care and domestic work in a range of advanced and emerging states (Anderson, 2007; Lutz, 2008) and this form of deprofessionalised nanny employment was no exception. This alternative use of the term nanny in the United Kingdom therefore referred with increasing frequency to migrant women who could be tasked with caring for children while also shopping, cooking, cleaning, driving, providing homework assistance etc. The chapter argues further that deprofessionalised nanny employment, occurring as it did in private domestic spaces and in the context of very low levels of state control, was likely to be characterised by high levels of informality (Cyrus, 2008). This meant that an important element of the childcare and associated domestic work sector in the United Kingdom was performed illegally. Deprofessionalisation and informality in the employment of (often migrant) nannies in the United Kingdom is troubling not only because of its association with illegal employment but also because it represented a marked failure to realise the demands for the upgrading of the status of care- and housework that have been key themes of feminist debate since the 1970s (Lutz, 2008).


Busch, N. (2012), "Chapter 4 Deprofessionalisation and Informality in the Market for Commoditised Care", Aslaug Sollund, R. (Ed.) Transnational Migration, Gender and Rights (Advances in Ecopolitics, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 53-75.



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