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Money, Sex and Power Domestic Work, ‘slavery’ & maternalism Week 42013-20142010-11
Lecture outline • Why is domestic work a field of power relations worth looking at? • Is domestic work slavery? • If not slavery then what?
Definitions The ILO (International Labour Organisation, Convention 189) defines “domestic work” as: • work performed within or for a household or households and “domestic worker” means any person engaged in domestic work within an employment relationship.
Domestic work – global facts • Domestic work is done by millions of people across the world. The ILO estimates that globally, around 53 million people are involved in domestic work – and that includes around 7.4 million children under the age of 15. • Domestic work is carried out overwhelmingly by women and girls and forms a substantial 7.5 % of women’s paid labour world-wide. • (figures from Anti-Slavery - http://www.antislavery.org/english/slavery_today/child_domestic_work.aspx)
Domestic work – GB facts • Looking closer to home, in Britain, there are many more domestic workers today than there were in Victorian times • Rosie Cox (The Servant Problem: Domestic Employment in a Global Economy 2006) estimates that there are over 2 million domestic workers today working in over 2.7 million households (p.3)
Why domestic work? • Because domestic work is increasing across the world • Because this increase is indicative of increasing inequalities, for example: • inequalities of wealth between poor and rich countries ; • gender inequalities. • Ageing population • Government policy and shift from delivery of care by state to delivery of care by individuals.
Does domestic work = slavery ? What is slavery? 1926 League of Nations Convention on Slavery, Servitude, Forced Labour and Similar Institutions and Practices states: • “Slavery is the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised” The ILO definition of 1930 defines forced labour as: • “All work or service that is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty for which the said person has not been offered himself voluntarily”
Characteristics of slavery • You’re forced to work – through mental or physical threat; • You’re owned or controlled by an ‘employer’, normally through mental or physical abuse; • You’re dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as a commodity; • You’re physically constrained or have restrictions placed on their freedom of movement.
Poor regulation of domestic work Domestic work is poorly regulated in most countries of the world including Britain. Britain 1998 – introduction and the right of the worker to change employers and to extend the period of her/his visa as long as they had work and were able to support themselves. 2012 – withdrawal of domestic worker visa; introduction of “tied visa” and its impacts
Tied Visa Impacts Kalayaan - organisation campaigning for the rights of domestic workers in Britain - research in 2011 showed that: • 62% of domestic workers on a tied visa received no wages from their employers compared with only 14% under the previous system. • all workers on the tied visa were paid less than £100 a week compared to 60% on the original visa • 85% did not have their own room, so slept with the children or in the kitchen or lounge, compared to 31% on the original visa. (New Internationalist Magazine, 2 July 2013)
Slavery or not? • In law a conclusion of slavery more difficult if not impossible . • This was demonstrated by a judgement of the European Court of Human Rights, 2005, in the case of Siliadin Vs France where ruling was that slavery cannot exist unless ownership of a person is proven. • However, the Court ruled that the charge of servitude which covers the forms of abuse already mentioned can be brought against unscrupulous employers who can then be prosecuted successfully on sufficient evidence.
Arguments in favour of domestic work • Certain changes in the labour market mean that domestic work is beneficial for families, employers and the market as a whole. • Domestic labour can be an attractive job for unskilled workers . • domestic workers not always low-skilled; and migrate to work in the domestic labour sector to send income back to their home countries. • Domestic work can be fulfilling when a worker develops trust with the employer and may feel highly valued for the services provided.
How to consider domestic work • Jacklyn Cock, (study of relations between employers and domestic workers in South Africa, Maids and Madams: A Study in the Politics of Exploitation (1980), states: • “Domestic workers and their employers are not free and equal participants in interaction. Their interaction is shaped and coloured by the structures which control the distribution of power and resources in South African society” (4).
Maternalism Rollins (Between Women: Domestics and Their Employers, 1985) argues that : • “ … the appropriate term is not paternalism but maternalism. And this change is more than semantic: women who have been the majority of employers of domestics in the West … have modified the relationship to distinctly feminine ways, thus creating a dynamic similar but not identical with paternalism … the importance of the employer being female in affecting the position, the tone and dynamics of the relationship cannot be overestimated” (179)
Maternalism and exploitation • Paulo Freire (1970): maternalism = a system of power relations where the maid is under the mistress’ protective custody, control, and authority. • Structurally, maternalism characterized by mistress benevolence, which is a “false generosity” (Freire) or “ideological camouflage” (Patterson, 1982) that conceals the exploitive nature of the relationship. • This relationship is structurally exploitive in two ways: a)the domestic worker’s labour is appropriated to enrich the employer’s class; b)the mistress deprives the worker control over her body, time, space, and relationships.
Acceptance of exploitation • But …the domestic worker often establishes or participates in a maternalisticrelationship with her employer because of her own feelings of isolation within the household where she works (Cock 1980; Rollins 1985). • Maternalism, as embodied in employer–domestic worker relations, reproduces the unequal class-gender structure, in which middle-class women delegate the unglamorous domestic work to poor women for low wages.
“Part of the family” ideology • Integration of the worker into the family. • The worker, especially if much younger than her employer may be treated by the employer as one of her own children or as a younger sister. • Given advice, called by an affectionate nickname • given gifts on her birthday and at Christmas. Gift-giving is embedded in maternalism but is often far from being an act of kindness. Gift-giving without return puts the receiver in a position of debt and therefore in a dependent status vis-à-vis the gift-giver. Often this is referred to as “the poison of the gift”.
Emotional labour • Through kindness, employer buys emotional labour from the domestic worker. • Emotional labour = element of the “part of the family ideology”. • the worker puts aside her own emotional needs and feelings in order to support the employer. • The worker acts as confidante to the employer or tries to create a happy atmosphere in the home, to cheer up her employer on whose mood her happiness and job satisfaction depends also.
Summary • Domestic work is worth looking at because domestic workers constitute an increasing part of the global labour force. • Because questions are raised about whether or not domestic work puts workers in a position of being enslaved; and if not slavery, then servitude and extreme exploitation. • Finally, it merits our interest because domestic work happens within the private sphere where market and state regulatory frameworks are seen not to operate and where, therefore, relations of class, gender and race inequality and exploitation become blurred.