Filipina Domestic Workers in São Paulo - An Explorative Case Study on the Social Reproduction of Class, Gender and Race

University essay from Lunds universitet/Sociologi

Abstract: The study is a first attempt to academically investigate the case of Filipina domestic workers in São Paulo. In brief, it aims to outline these migrants’ life and working conditions, their insertion and function within class relations and in regard to a gendered and racialized work regime. The overarching theoretical framework is social reproduction feminism that originated from the 1960’s socialist domestic labor debate and that has since then been renewed by postcolonial, Black feminists and queer studies. The research builds on qualitative methodology. Besides the literature review, ethnographic fieldwork was conducted with 25 migrants in a two week timespan that included individual and group interviews as well as participant observations. In contrast to the initial literature review, the study finds that the majority of these women migrate and work in so called irregular situations. Even though there are considerable differences regarding their individual circumstances, nearly none of their work conditions comply with Brazilian labor regulations. The study furthermore shows that the migrants class position is central in understanding both the migration and work trajectory. An important function of the migrant’s labor is the reproduction of the upper class that does however not necessarily form part of the citizenship population. In regard to gender and race, the study suggests that these women find themselves inserted in a transnational care chain and that gendered and racialized constructions of the worker are central in understanding both their exploitation and conception as excellent workers.

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