Publication details

‘Good families’ and the shadows of servitude: au pair gossip and norms of au pair employment

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Year of publication 2015
Type Chapter of a book
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Description Though the conditions of au pairs’ employment are vaguely defined by international law and immigration rules (European Agreement on Au Pair Placement 1969, Immigration Directorates’ Instructions 2003), many host families and au pairs are not familiar with their details. Furthermore, the actual working and living conditions of au pairs’ are controlled neither by immigration policy, nor by commercial agencies mediating contacts between the au pairs and host families. Consequently, the au pairs and host families have often different expactations and particular conditions and relationships depend on individuals. Drawing on long-term ethnographic fieldwork amongst Slovak au pairs living and working in London in 2004/2005, this chapter shows how the host families and au pairs deal with this lack of definitions, rules and control and how they negotiate their relationships. In particular I will show how the au pairs use social networks for comparing their conditions and establishing what the rules are or should be.
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