Informace o publikaci

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

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Rok publikování 2014
Druh Další prezentace na konferencích
Fakulta / Pracoviště MU

Fakulta sociálních studií

Popis Though the conditions of au pairs’ employment are vaguely defined by legislation, au pairs usually are not familiar with its 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. Drawing on long-term ethnographic fieldwork amongst Slovak au pairs in London in 2004/2005, this presentation will focus on how au pairs deal with this lack of definitions and control under the conditions of limited power. I will argue that their important concern is fairness of their treatment by host families: au pairs try to find out what kinds of working and living conditions are fair and whether they are staying with (what they call) ‘a good family‘. When au pairs judge their treatment by host families, they do not rely on any formal authority (e.g. agencies), or abstract model (e.g. legal rules). Instead, when establishing what rules of au pair employment are (or should be), they rely on their social networks and compare their experience with experiences of other individual au pairs. After illustrating what au pairs consider as ‘a good family’ I will pay attention to the idea of ‘servitude’, as au pairs often contrasted servitude with the ‘proper’ treatment of au pairs and to the practice of ‘good families’, arguing that servitude is a shadow concept (Jiménez and Willerslev, 2007) of au pairing.
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