This chapter examines how gender interacts with informal workers’ collective action strategies in the context of contemporary development scripts around economic growth…
This chapter examines how gender interacts with informal workers’ collective action strategies in the context of contemporary development scripts around economic growth. Specifically, it engages the theoretical debates on the relationship between patriarchy and capitalism as the systems of domination that organize gender and class. Drawing from a comparative analysis of informal workers’ movements in India’s domestic work and construction sectors, I find the relationship between gender and class and between patriarchy and capitalism is being reconceptualized from below and differs by occupational structures and organization histories. For domestic workers, movements assert what I call a “unitary” model of exploitation. Because domestic workers’ organizations entered the productive sphere through a focus on social reproduction, their struggles conflate gender and class to reverse the shame attached to domestic work and increase the recognized worth of women’s labor. Because construction workers’ organizations mobilize male and female workers and began as class-based organizations focusing on productive work, they articulate what I term “a dual systems” approach to patriarchy and capitalism that exposes inequalities between men and women within the sector, such as unequal pay, glass ceilings, and issues of embodiment. In both cases, global development scripts have not only shaped movement approaches, but also enabled movements to articulate gendered labor subjects in innovative ways. While domestic workers’ unitary model has had more success in increasing women workers’ dignity and leadership, construction workers’ dualist model has attained more successes in attaining material benefits in the reproductive sphere. These findings suggest that debates on unitary versus dual-systems models of exploitation present a false dichotomy and veil the reality that both are necessary for feminist theory, development models, and women workers’ struggles on the ground.
This chapter examines the relationship between the gendering of domestic work – its construction as ‘women's work’ – and the treatment within migration regimes of people who do such work. Research on paid domestic workers to date has highlighted that there are many examples of migrant domestic workers being subject to more stringent, limiting or invasive visa regulations than other migrant workers (see, e.g. Constable, 2003; Mundlak & Shamir, 2008; Pratt, 2004; Yeoh & Huang, 1999a, 1999b). Additionally, domestic workers can be excluded from employment protections, such as those that ensure minimum wages or maximum working hours for other groups (Hondagneu-Sotelo, 2001; Mundlak & Shamir, 2008; Pratt, 2004).
Looks at the historical positioning of housework as unpaid and questions the correctness of this idea. States that there is a fundamental theoretical error in defining housework as unpaid as market concepts are being applied to non‐market work. Continues to distinguish between the two markets considering the features of both, outlining the gender differences and the recent changes in the twentieth century.
The purpose of this study is to provide first-hand information regarding domestic labour/labourers in Egypt. The researcher tries to investigate the information rights and…
The purpose of this study is to provide first-hand information regarding domestic labour/labourers in Egypt. The researcher tries to investigate the information rights and needs of these vulnerable and marginalized groups in Egypt in terms of its thoughts, perceptions, attitudes, motivations, techniques, preferences, ways, tools and problems encountered towards using of and accessing information. The study, therefore, attempts to look at, as possible, the many different characteristics of local domestic workers in Egypt and affecting their use of and access to information.
Methodology used here was an adaptive form of snowball sampling of a heterogeneous demographic group of participants in the local domestic work in Egypt, used to select focus groups to explore a range of relevant issues.
Demographically, this study showed that local domestic labour in Egypt, to a great extent, is occupied and performed by women and children, and the average age of the total interviewed participants was around 31 years. Over half of participants were uneducated, followed by nearly a quarter of them were with no formal education and just a small number had some primary education. This study concluded that a large number of participants were described as illiterate and nonskilled labourers. Participants’ income proved that it was one of barriers to use of and access to information where a large number of participants were labelled as low-income workers. The information-seeking behaviour (ISB) profile of participants indicated a preference for verbal over written, informal over formal and undocumented over documented information channels and sources to solve problems relating to everyday existence using some helping tools and devices especially cell phones. The most popular information sources mentioned and followed by participants were verbal information with friends, peers and colleagues in neighbouring households either via telephones, especially cell phones, or face-to-face meeting. TV and Radio, newspapers and magazines were, respectively, the most famous formal sources participants use. Information related to work, family affairs, security and health issues was most commonly desired and wanted by participants. Participants mentioned that their priorities of accessing information were to help in work-related activities such as cooking cleaning and decorating, to know new kitchen recipes, to assist in the education of the employer’s children. Others added that they were also seeking for information for getting promoted and having some fun especially through audiovisual sources like TV and Radio. They were not commonly using libraries due to the fact that most of them were uneducated, and the education of the some others was limited. However, this study showed that there was a little and accidental use for some libraries like public and children libraries and a small number of them was using the employer’s home library. In terms of using technologies related to the use of information like the Internet, the study found such access was an issue, as a very small number of participants were using it mainly for personal information. Regarding challenges, concerns and problems faced by local domestic workers in Egypt during using of and accessing information, the study found that the most important challenges participants faced in this study were the illiteracy and lack of awareness about the basic rights and perception of information rights and needs. Other challenges like the time, psychological burdens, the social image being domestic worker, lack of accessible information channels, lack of training and skills and also lack of money needed to access information were also an issue.
This study comes to respond strongly to the great global concern on the neglected and marginalized sector of work/workers in Egypt. It provides information on invisible forms of domestic labour/labourers, and indicates how their rights, especially towards accessing information, are violated. Any findings of this study may generate interest and create awareness on the needs and conditions of domestic labour/labourers among marginalized labour advocates, policymakers and the civil society.
The literature on this topic is scarce and, therefore, this paper gives important and significant insight into how to assist local domestic workers in Egypt with information needs.
Laws geared toward regulating the employment relationship cling to traditional definitions of workplaces, neglecting the domain of the home and those who work there…
Laws geared toward regulating the employment relationship cling to traditional definitions of workplaces, neglecting the domain of the home and those who work there. Domestic workers, a population of largely immigrant women of color, have performed labor inside of New York City's homes for centuries and yet have consistently been denied coverage under labor law protections at both the state and federal level. This article traces out the exclusions of domestic workers historically and then turn to a particular piece of legislation – the 2010 New York Domestic Worker Bill of Rights – which was the first law of its kind to regulate the household as a site of labor, therefore disrupting that long-standing pattern. However, the law falls short in granting basic worker protections to this particular group. Drawing from 52 in-depth interviews and analysis of legislative documents, The author argues that the problematics of the law can be understood by recognizing its embeddedness, or rather the broader political, legal, historical, and social ecology within which the law is embedded, which inhibited in a number of important ways the law's ability to work. This article shows how this plays out through the law obscuring the specificity of where this labor is performed – the home – as well as the demographic makeup of the immigrant women of color – the whom – performing it. Using the case study of domestic workers' recent inclusion into labor law coverage, this article urges a closer scrutiny of and attention to the changing nature of inequality, race, and gender present in employment relationships within the private household as well as found more generally throughout the low-wage sector.
Gender is a defining feature of informal/precarious work in the twenty-first century, yet studies rarely adopt a gendered lens when examining collective efforts to challenge informality and precarity. This chapter foregrounds the gendered dimensions of informal/precarious workers’ struggles as a crucial starting point for re-theorizing the future of global labor movements. Drawing upon the findings of the volume’s six chapters spanning five countries (the United States, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, and India) and two gender-typed sectors (domestic work and construction), this chapter explores how gender is intertwined into informal/precarious workers’ movements, why gender is addressed, and to what end. Across countries and sectors, informal/precarious worker organizations are on the front lines of challenging the multiple forms of gendered inequalities that shape contemporary practices of accumulation and labor regulation. They expose the forgotten reality that class structures not only represent classification struggles around work, but also around social identities, such as gender, race, and migration status. However, these organizing efforts are not fighting to transform the gendered division of labor or embarking on revolutionary struggles to overturn private ownership and liberalized markets. Nonetheless, these struggles are making major transformations in terms of increasing women’s leadership and membership in labor movements and exposing how gender interacts with other ascriptive identities to shape work. They are also radicalizing hegemonic scripts of capitalist accumulation, development, and even gender to attain recognition for female-dominated occupations and reproductive needs for the first time ever. These outcomes are crucial as sources of emancipatory transformations at a time when state and public support for labor and social protection is facing a deep assault stemming from the pressures of transnational production and globalizing markets.
We contextualize contemporary domestic worker organizing in Vancouver within a history of domestic worker organizing in Canada and then build the argument that their…
We contextualize contemporary domestic worker organizing in Vancouver within a history of domestic worker organizing in Canada and then build the argument that their organizing has been structured by the gendered geographies of: international migration; the location of the work in the private home; and the prevalence of stepwise migration of Filipina domestic workers to Canada. These gendered geographies have led to a distinctive mode of organizing: in the community around a wide range of issues that enfold social reproduction into workplace issues to engage the entirety of individuals’ and families’ lives across the life course. Domestic workers’ organizing is grounded in the spatialities and materialities of their lives, and seemingly familiar gender scripts take on an active force in the domestic workers’ mobilization. Confronting the contradictions of organizing domestic workers and organizing to revalue domestic work points to the enduring undervaluation of feminized workers and their work, as well as the potential for intersectional solidarities along with the need for multisectoral strategies.
This chapter focuses on the case of migrant Filipina live-in domestic workers in Greece and how the frame of their work and employment in precarious, low-status/low-wage…
This chapter focuses on the case of migrant Filipina live-in domestic workers in Greece and how the frame of their work and employment in precarious, low-status/low-wage jobs and race discrimination at work, that is, the employers’ residences, affect their participation in secondary groups of solidarity and workers and their representation in them, that is, community, migrant labour associations and trade unions, during the economic crisis in Greece. According to the results of in-depth interviews Filipina migrants are entrapped in a frame of isolative and exploitative working conditions and racial discrimination at work, that is, personal services, care and domestic work. In this working context, most of the interviewed migrant Filipina live-in domestic workers appear to have developed individualistic perceptions, they act in an atomistic manner, form materialistic beliefs, are indifferent to collectivity and solidarity and are isolated from their compatriots and other workers. They have low self-perceptions and expectations for social advancement and deal with their social and labour-related problems individually, or completely resign from claiming them.
In this chapter, we examine the multifaceted challenges that feminist labor organizations face in decommodifying the lives and labor of poor and working-class women. Using…
In this chapter, we examine the multifaceted challenges that feminist labor organizations face in decommodifying the lives and labor of poor and working-class women. Using an in-depth case study of domestic worker organizing in South Korea, we find that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the National House Managers Cooperative and the Korean Women Workers Association became entangled in hegemonic state projects that linked support for women’s basic livelihoods to the proliferation of part-time, informal domestic work in the context of widespread crises. To challenge the discriminatory and market-driven logics of state-driven social protection efforts, these NGOs have advanced an emancipatory agenda to improve the working conditions, labor rights, and social dignity of domestic workers through consciousness-raising grassroots organizing methods and contentious policy advocacy campaigns. Their social movement transformation goals, however, have been constrained by the relative organizational isolation and limited organizational capacity of feminist labor NGOs in a broader context of neoliberal precaritization and gender-stratified labor markets. The myriad dilemmas facing domestic worker organizing in an era of global hegemonic market rule highlight the need to develop new political imaginaries to contest gender and economic injustice.
The purpose of this paper is to use the case of white immigrant women domestics’ experiences in migration to demonstrate that their work experiences are different due to…
The purpose of this paper is to use the case of white immigrant women domestics’ experiences in migration to demonstrate that their work experiences are different due to their whiteness. While their racial identity provides them with white privileges, they still face discrimination based on their occupational and immigrant statuses. The case study adds to existing literature on domestic service.
The case study is based on several years of ethnographic work. The author conducted in‐depth interviews with Polish immigrant women and white female employers. The author also held focus groups with Polish women.
White immigrant women from Poland do not automatically assume the white racial identity in the USA. Their whiteness is constructed and reinforced through their interactions with their white female employers. Their whiteness renders their experiences different from racial minority women and immigrant women of color. However, Polish domestics construct their positive work identity to counteract the negative images about them and domestic service as an occupation.
The main limitation the author sees is that the author could have conducted interviews with Mexican immigrant women to compare the differences in terms of their working conditions.
While Polish domestics seem to have better experiences than other groups of immigrant women, domestic workers are excluded from the labor law. They are thus without the protection of labor law. It is important for us to work for the right of immigrant workers to eradicate the inequality in society.
This case shows that the transnational labor migration contributes to further inequality in society since it is usually the migrant workers who take up the low skilled or unskilled work that has few possibilities for promotion and has few benefits. The government needs to address the transnational migration process and the exploitation of migrant workers ensuing from the process.
Polish immigrant women are a unique group of women mainly because they are among the few white women who perform domestic service. Their experiences are different from racial minority women and immigrant women of color. Merging the whiteness approach and domestic service is an innovative approach.