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    Gender, work, non-work and the invisible migrant: au pairs in contemporary Britain

    Cox, Rosie (2018) Gender, work, non-work and the invisible migrant: au pairs in contemporary Britain. Palgrave Communications 4 (1), ISSN 2055-1045.

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    Campaigns by Uber drivers, Deliveroo riders and McDonalds workers have highlighted problems with the new world of platform economies and zero-hour contracts. At the same time, the Brexit process has opened up debates about the UK’s dependence on low-waged workers from the EU. Together these trends raise questions about who is going to do low-paid, labour intensive work in the future and what their rights will be. Within these debates, au pairs have been largely invisible despite the fact that they are EU workers who are depended upon by perhaps 100,000 families in the UK, and the fact that their status excludes them from protections available to other workers. This paper explores the current UK situation to examine how this invisibility is related to the gendering of the work au pairs do. While traditionally masculine jobs, such as construction work, have tended to be reimagined as self-employment, au pairing is an example of the way that traditionally feminine tasks are produced by policy discourses as ‘help’. Despite this invisibility au pairs do large amounts of work, on average working 37.8 h per week for ‘pocket money’ at about half the level of the National Minimum Wage and they are increasingly taking on tasks, such as the care for very young children, that would have been done by qualified nannies in the past. In addition to the current debates over the rights of workers in new ‘platform’ economies, and the possible problems arising from Brexit, we need a broader conversation about work, what it is and how gendered assumptions inform government policy and curtail the rights of workers.


    Item Type: Article
    School: School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Department of Geography
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2018 08:16
    Last Modified: 11 Jun 2021 03:59


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