Service, intimacy, subjection: Three forms of work relationships in the domestic service sector
Colombo, Asher D.
Education Università di Bologna Bologna, Italy
In recent decades, in some areas of Europe, the domestic service had almost disappeared. The aging of population, the growth of female employment, the weakness of the welfare state in some parts of Europe are just some of the factors that have caused a growing demand for waged domestic service. As happened in other countries of the Mediterranean Europe - but not exclusively - in Italy this workforce was supplied mostly by foreign women from Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia. But what changes in the forms of domestic relationships has caused this massive entry of women (and men) in the homes of foreign families?
Based on one major databases consisting of 650 extensive life stories of care and domestic workers of both sexes and of many emigration countries, the paper strives to reconstruct a part of the picture. Among the peculiarities of the sources used should be noted that the first two databases include information both on legal and illegal foreign residents.
The analysis shows that we can single out three major forms of work relationships based on the pure supply of service, the intimacy with the employers or with the cared people or both, and the subjection of the employees to the employers.