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‘Like Sardines in a Can’. Gender, Stratification and Mobility in the Lives of Female Household Employees in Bogotá, Colombia

Urban Mobility and Social Equity in Latin America: Evidence, Concepts, Methods

ISBN: 978-1-78769-010-3, eISBN: 978-1-78769-009-7

ISSN: 2044-9941

Publication date: 16 November 2020

Abstract

According to the Colombian Labour Ministry, in 2015, 750,000 persons officially worked as household employees. Ninety-eight per cent of these employees are women who tend to live in Bogotá’s (southern) urban fringe and travel to the city’s wealthier north on a daily basis. Yet public transportation in the Colombian capital is subject to stratification. Besides overcrowding and delays, petty crime and sexual harassment, fringe areas remain underserved. Based on ethnographic data, in this chapter, the authors discuss findings from a 3-year research project on female household employees’ subjective experience of space. Specifically, the authors explore their capacity (motility) to be mobile. This perspective breaks with the limits of bounded categories such as ‘urban’, ‘neighbourhood’ or ‘class’, to highlight their situational and spatial mutability. Moreover, an investigation of motility includes people’s potential to move as well as their subjective experiences of mobility. The research shows how gender intersects with local labour regimes and infrastructure to negatively affect women’s mobility. Urban stratification is not only a question of locale of residence and access to services, but importantly (re)produced in the household employees’ subjective experience of their daily commute, which they describe as suffering. In their limited spare time, female household employees abstain from travelling, effectively curbing their active appropriation of urban space. The research thus illuminates how spatial, social and economic dimensions mutually interact to impact on the women’s lives and possibilities.

Keywords

Citation

Fleischer, F. and Sanabria, I.S.S. (2020), "‘Like Sardines in a Can’. Gender, Stratification and Mobility in the Lives of Female Household Employees in Bogotá, Colombia", Oviedo, D., Duarte, N.V. and Pinto, A.M.A. (Ed.) Urban Mobility and Social Equity in Latin America: Evidence, Concepts, Methods (Transport and Sustainability, Vol. 12), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 85-102. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2044-994120200000012008

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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