Working Paper

A Very Private Business: Migration and Domestic Work

Published 1 January 2006 / By COMPAS Communications

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This paper examines demand for domestic work in private households, whether there is a specific demand for migrant domestic workers, and if there is why this should be. In considering this research conducted on the labour markets for migrant sex and domestic workers conducted with Professor Julia O'Connell Davidson at the University of Nottingham is drawn upon. Such developments have to manage practical and theoretical contradictions. The public/private dichotomy elides both the market and the state as the "public". Thus one response to abuse of migrant domestic workers is to focus on the deficiencies of working in private households, and to argue that domestic work should be considered as just another job. A different approach is to invoke the protection of the state, and to consider migrant domestic workers who are abused by employers or agents as "trafficked victims". Both these options will be explored and reviewed. The paper concludes by considering some of the challenges and possibilities for migrant domestic workers and other stakeholders.


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