Discourses in Au Pair Programs in Europe and the United States

Title

Discourses in Au Pair Programs in Europe and the United States

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Research Question

Why do women from the developing Balkan region choose to migrate to the US through the Au Pair program? Also, why isn’t the program considered domestic labor instead of cultural exchange?

Award

Centennial Fellowship in Global Studies & CGS World to Wyoming Grant

Significance

To get a broader perspective of au pairing in the United States and understanding of the discursive practices and structures that allow for continuity of this kind of potentially exploitative system. Also, to examine the feminization of international migration and its restrictiveness to traditionally feminine gender roles being assigned to female migrants.

Methods Used

Interviews and data collection.

Conclusions/Outcomes

More women joining labor market creates more demand for hiring domestic workers, this resulting in often hiring immigrant women from developing countries. Global inequalities in distribution of capital, just as market segmentation are some of the factors that lead to immigrants filling in low-skilled labor positions. Domestic labor being almost always done by women poses questions about gender roles both in the sending and developing contexts and requires an understanding not reducible to economic analyses of supply and demand. Immigrant workers are already susceptible to many types of exploitation. However, the Au Pair program is different in a sense that it avoids defining itself as domestic labor in favor of cultural exchange, thus obscuring possibilities of exploitation even more.

Publication Date

2017

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Discourses in Au Pair Programs in Europe and the United States

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