Accepted Paper:

Intimate intricacies of domestic/care work among migrants in Barcelona  


Gladis Aguirre Vidal (Stockholm University)

Paper short abstract:

This discussion shows the difficulties presented in the process of professionalising domestic / care work when emotions and metaphorical self identifications ("like a family") become crucial parts of daily routines.

Paper long abstract:

This presentation is about female migrants and their incorporation into a global economy that celebrates and requires individual flexibility. Here I follow how the metaphor "like a family" mirrors women's way of creating both sustenance and meaning in the new society where they arrive. They see themselves as the "sources" of love and care in their roles as domestic and care workers. The questions concern the intimate sides of the work and the ethnographic material relates to migrant women from Ecuador who takes care of elderly Spanish pensioners, a rapidly growing group in Spanish society. I argue that the circulation of money, gifts and the opportunity to gain legal status, stimulate social relationships and contribute to develop strong feelings. This is not just about rational calculations, but it shows moral and cultural tendencies, and even how individuals in general create possibilities for life and dignity under the specific requirements of the global economy, where subjective feelings meet financial requirements.

Panel P013
Collaboration and intimacy in the politics of care work