Gibson-Nannies

Sociol 2009 32279292 together nannies transform public

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Unformatted text preview: r, nannies transform public space into a site for community life. Thus, in addition to routine interactions and shared care work, the weekly potluck also contributes to the sense of community among nannies at Pebble Park. The boundaries of community Nannies are not the only identifiable group at Pebble Park. Other park patrons include lawn bowlers, joggers, golfers, dog walkers, residents of a nearby nursing home, a preschool class at a nearby school, families, and park staff. Most of these patrons never interact with nannies because they use different areas of the park; however, nannies come into regular contact with Latino park staff and their employers. The following section of this paper will compare the ways nannies interact with park regulars, showing how nannies incorporate Latino park staff into their communal life, but exclude their non-Latina female employers. Park staff Like nannies, park employees also work at Pebble Park. The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks employs a full and part-time staff of four to six people to maintain the park. The staff includes: Esteban, the 45-year-old senior gardener; Richard, second in command; Danny, a 25-year-old engineering student; and Sebastian, at 23, the youngest employee. Employees at Pebble Park function as gardeners, maintenance workers, and janitors. Nannies and park employees regularly interact with one another at the park, and the two groups operate in many of the same spaces. However, several incidents in which park patrons complained about nannies’ use of the park have occurred during Esteban’s tenure as senior gardener. Esteban explained: “They got mad because some nannies were having a birthday party with their families and another group wanted to use the tables. I told them the tables are first come, first serve. Another time some lady got mad because nannies were using the bathroom. She actually tried to block someone.” I ask Esteban if these things still happen at the park and he responds, “Not really. It used to happen a few years ago, but not now. I look out for them (the nannies).” Although Pebble Park is a public park, a few patrons suggested nannies were not entitled to use its facilities. Just as nannies have subordinate rights to space in the employer ’s home, their rights to space in public are also contested by community members, often because nannies are of a different race, ethnicity, or economic status than the dominant group (Lan 2006; Parreñas 2001; Yeoh and Huang 1998). As the senior employee, Esteban’s maintains order at the park. Esteban is very supportive of the park’s Latina patrons and defends their right to space, ensuring that nannies feel comfortable accessing park facilities. Nannies often go out of their way to greet park staff upon arriving to the park, and they say goodbye when leaving. Like the nannies, Latino park employees perform low-wage labor in a predominantly white neighborhood. Esteban describes the relationship b...
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