A maid by any other name-Sanzinger.docx

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29 Mar 2012
A maid by any other name- Leslie Sanzinger
Salzinger studies immigrant women who do domestic work in the United States
Argues that diversity among these workers’ experiences can be explained by the loss of
manufacturing jobs and the increasing need for service works
Domestic service jobs needed not only by wealthy people but also by elderly and working
Many women been in United Sates for almost a decade but were still doing domestic work
Domestic work is a paradigmatic case of immigrant “dirty” work- of work that is
irredeemably demeaning
Salzinger argues that the human capital resources they brought-or failed to bring- with
them account for little of their work experience in this country; it is within the context of
the constraints and opportunities they encountered here that we can understand their
occupational decisions, their attitudes toward their work, and ultimately their divergent
abilities to transform the work itself
Why Domestic Work?
Saskia Sassen-Koob focuses directly on the structural context entered by contemporary
immigrants to American cities
During the last 20 years, immigrants have entered the United States’ “declining” cities in
ever- increasing numbers, and contrary to all predictions, they continue to find enough
work to encourage others to follow them
While these cities are losing their place as manufacturing centres, they are simultaneously
undergoing a rebirth as “global cities”, such as banking and insurance for an international
corporate market
A Bifurcated Market
Sassen-Koob points to the contemporary emergence of a two-tiered service economy
composed of professionals and those who serve them, both at work and at home
Increasing demand for domestic services from single, elite professionals but there is an
increasing demand for such services from the rising number of elderly people living alone
on fixed incomes, from two-earner working-class families, and from single mothers who
need cheap child care to work
Evelyn Nakano Glenn notes discrepancies in pay among workers- she attributes this to
personalistic aspects of the negotiating process between domestic workers and their
Over the last 30 years, women have entered the paid labour force in increasing numbers;
response to the economic shifts mentioned by Sassen Koob (decline of manufacturing jobs[
usually men’s jobs] paying a family wage and increasing availability of feminized service
jobs) and cultural shifts that have made paid work an acceptable choice for women in the
absence of financial need
o Led to a commodification of what was once unpaid household labour, visible in the
boom in restaurants and cleaning agencies and the increasing demand for child care
during the last 10 years
Nature of the employer rather than of the work determines the wages
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