In recent years, one could see the progressive development of a multi-layered and highly heterogeneous framework for the governance of paid domestic work based on the interplay between different types of global and local actors. In the process, the condition of paid domestic workers – their poor conditions and the discrimination they face in different parts of the world – has come to be seen as a global problem, whose governance is a challenge going beyond national borders. It is from this perspective that this project elaborates on how, by studying the case of paid domestic work, we describe the process by which issues of local governance are transferred to the global level. This question will be answered both at the theoretical level, examining the tension between local and global dimensions in governance, as well as at the empirical level, through the analysis of the interplay between different actors in this process.
However, the study of the global governance of paid domestic work poses some questions also from the social and cultural point of view due to the specificity of paid domestic work in each national context. In fact, while in Europe and North America, paid domestic work at present concerns mainly the employment of transnational migrants by households who lack sufficient support from the welfare state, in South-Africa and other formerly colonised countries, it is essentially rooted in the legacy of racial apartheid; in Latin America, domestic work is mainly a job for racialised, indigenous and rural populations, while in India it still stems from caste-based differences. This diversity is paralleled by a difference in the social groups that perform it: undocumented migrants, low-caste women, or black and indigenous women, depending on the context. From this perspective, this project explores how the cultural specificities that affect the definition of the issue (i.e. the social meaning of paid domestic work and the diverse social groups that are employed in this sector) are accounted for, in the new the global governance of paid domestic work.
It is through the analysis of these interrelated research questions that this research project explores the strengths and pitfalls of the new global governance of paid domestic as it has unfolded so far, and also foresees some suitable developments.
>>RADIO interview about domestic workers' movement (in Italian)
The stories of Eritrean domestic workers in Italy and Afro-Surinamese home-carers in the Netherlands have been the subject of my PhD, with the aim to uncover how colonial legacies still affect our everyday lives.
(photo by Antonella Monzoni)
Listening to Eastern European women who (want to) circulate as paid home-care workers, and to their Italian employers: an important resource to understand how family, labour and mobility are changing in Europe. This was the topic of my Marie Curie project and of the ESF Exploratory Workshop I organized with Anna Triandafyllidou.
» More about the project
(photo by Mauro Buffa)