Recognising domestic workers: the impact of emotions on everyday life
de la Blétière, Vanessa
Sociology DINÂMIA (Centro de Estudos Sobre a Mudança Socioeconómica) Lisbon, Portugal
The social construction of the concept of domestic work involves the notion of social devaluation that shade the regard and recognition of this kind of work. Domestic workers have been defined as an "invisible army of workers" (Ramirez-Machado; 2003). The nature of domestic work only permits to see the result of this activity when it is either not done or not done well (Dussuet; 1998); in the same way, domestic workers are frequently unseen; sometimes the nature of the tasks tend to occult the nature of the person (body and mind). The devaluation of this kind of work disregards the value of domestic workers role in civil society and also in family by helping the process of empowerment of some woman. This communication aims to analyze how domestic workers live whiting devaluation of this job; in discussing the nature of this social devaluation we will explore the emotions of a domestic worker in everyday life taking into account the fact that domestic work is predominantly done by women; having no equality of gender on this kind of work, we aim also to analyze the emotions that could be behind men doing this kind of work. Based on interviews of domestic workers in Portugal, the communication will consider how social devaluation affects workers´ self esteem, and identify the strategies adopted to surpass this feeling. Using the concept of "recognition" to clarify the importance of social esteem (Honneth; 2004) in domestic work, we will focus on the effects of emotions and body language on the everyday life of a domestic worker, through the process of social recognition.