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Earning Money, Learning the Language : Slovak Au Pairs and their Passage to Adulthood

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Rok publikování 2014
Druh Kapitola v knize
Fakulta / Pracoviště MU

Fakulta sociálních studií

Popis This chapter contextualises the motivations of Slovak women for au pair migration by relating them to neo-liberal interpretations of post/socialism and discourse of neo-liberal governmentality (MacNay 2009). Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork amongst Slovak au pairs in working in London, Sekeráková Búriková shows how prospective au pairs have come to a temporary stay in Western countries as necessary for their careers and their personal development. When interviewed about their motivations to migrate, au pairs mention importance of studying the language, learning new skills and improving their chances for better employment. These interpretations of au pair migration dovetail descriptions of neoliberal personhood and enterprising selves calculating profits of their actions and actively projecting themselves and their future (Rose 1996). However, after meeting her regularly on informal social occasions, they tended to develop their life-stories and spoke about less acceptable and much more complex motivations for leaving. In particular, their decisions to migrate were related to the complexity of their relationships with parents, romantic partners, and friends. Sekerákova Búriková reveals how the socially (and ideologically) legitimate discourse of self-improvement concealed a set of rather more complex goals associated with migration. These goals were related to the broader social relationships of her respondents, who sought to gain more freedom or empowerment in particular relationships through social and geographical mobility: Au pairs often interpret their stays as the lessons in growing up. By giving voice to the first post-socialist generation, Sekeráková Búriková not only delivers a subtle analysis of the relationship between ongoing structural transformations and changing ideals of the good life, but challenges the apparent hegemony of post-socialist, neo-liberal discourse on the person.
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