The constant Other: Brazilian domestic workers and the role of “care work” in everyday life.
Amaral Dos Santos, B.
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Working daily inside middle-class and, mostly, white families’ houses, domestic workers constantly face the social and economic inequalities embedded in their lives and routines. Moreover, the gender role of women who work as domestic workers still positions them as the main actors in charge of activities in their own household. The research aims, thus, at analyzing how domestic workers in Brazil perceive care work both as a paid job and as a family duty. Paid domestic work is a legacy from the slavery system that lasted throughout the Brazilian colonial era. Therefore, the various intersections of gender, class and race, informed by coloniality, are intrinsically linked to this professional occupation, as well as to the low social status that it entails. Through the lenses of the decolonial approach and using as analytical tools the conceptions the home and the street of Roberto Da Matta (1987,1994), I analyse domestic workers’ own perceptions of their professional field. This investigation highlights through their narratives new elements to conceptualize domestic work and to offer new views on unpaid domestic duties. The thesis draws its conclusions from in-depth interviews and participant observation with 10 female domestic workers in Brasilia-DF/Brazil.