Unformatted text preview: d between $250 and $450 a week. Two women also received
insurance benefits and paid holidays.
I participated in the social life nannies created at the park and conducted field interviews
through the course of regular interaction and conversation. After compiling a year of data,
roughly 150 pages of notes, I coded the data for analytic themes (Katz 2001). All
conversations occurred in Spanish and were translated into English for this paper, unless
otherwise noted. I limited my interactions with nannies’ employers because I did not want
to jeopardize my relationship with nannies at the park. As a result, this paper reflects the
nannies’ points of view, rather than their employers. Like Parreñas (2001), I use the
“subject approach” which acknowledges both structure and agency as it relates to domestic
workers. Thus, this paper demonstrates the agency and power that domestic workers
exercise while on the job, but it acknowledges that their subordinate positions restrict their
autonomy. Qual Sociol (2009) 32:279–292 283 Sources of community life
Working at the park
Unlike other domestics, whose roles are primarily defined in terms of cleaning the
employer ’s home, the nanny’s primary responsibility is taking care of the employer ’s child.
Outings to the public park are part of the daily routine for many nannies taking care of
children in West Los Angeles. For example, employers often encouraged nannies to go to
the park because they wanted their child to spend time outdoors playing with other children.
In addition, three employers worked from home and encouraged nannies to leave the
household so the employers could be at home alone. When I asked Lucy her favorite thing
about being a nanny, she responded, “This—these women, coming to the park.” Far from
creating social isolation, employment as a nanny provided women the opportunity to
regularly attend Pebble Park with others working in similar positions.
Although the casual observer might never notice, the days and times that nannies go to
the park are not random. Instead, nannies have regular routines that others at the park know
and expect. For example, Alicia, a middle-aged woman with short curly hair, attended the
park Monday through Friday with Colby and Nathan (twins, 2 years old). She usually
arrived at the park at 10:30 A.M. and left by 12:30 to take the boys to a nearby pre-school. In
addition to Alicia, five nannies attended the park Monday-Friday, two attended the park
Tuesday-Thursday, and three attended the park Wednesday-Thursday/Friday. Most women
arrived between 10:00 and 11:00 A.M. and left the park between 2:00 P.M. and 3:00 P.M.
Nannies frequently voiced their expectations about seeing one another. On a Thursday
afternoon, Alicia, told Catalina, a middle-aged Guatemalan nanny, “I’ll see you tomorrow”
as Catalina prepared to leave the park. Before getting a response, Alicia quickly corrected
herself, “Friday. I’ll see you Friday.” Nannies’ expectations...
View Full Document
- Spring '10
- Sociology, Domestic worker, Maid, Domestic workers, nannies, Pebble Park