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Unformatted text preview: rch, my paper focuses on the relationships domestic workers
create with one another in their employers’ neighborhood. Latina nannies in West Los
Angeles spend time in the same public park because their employers encourage or request
that they take their children there. Thus, I argue that the structure of domestic work 282 Qual Sociol (2009) 32:279–292 provides opportunities for women to create community during the normal course of the
workday. Data and methods
This paper focuses on live-in and live-out nannies; although their work involves a myriad
of simultaneous tasks like cooking or cleaning, their principle roles involve caring for their
employers’ children. Most studies of domestic labor tend to be historical (Dudden 1983;
Glenn 1986; Katzman 1978; Palmer 1989) or interview based (Dill 1988; Glenn 1986;
Hondagneu-Sotelo 2001; MacDonald 1998; Romero 1988, 1992; Wrigley 1995). With the
exception of Rollins (1985) whose research is informed by her own work as a domestic,
research that has relied on ethnographic observations focuses on what women do during
their days off work (Cohen 1991; Hondagneu-Sotelo 1994a, b; Lan 2006; Parreñas 2001;
Yeoh and Huang 1998). Instead, my work uses ethnographic observations to examine
relationships between domestics when they are on the job and at work.
My research relies on a year of ethnographic observations between January and
December of 2005 at “Pebble Park,” a public park in an affluent West Los Angeles
neighborhood. In 2000, households in the park’s census tract had a median income of
$135,487 a year, compared to $41,994 nationally; the median home value in the Pebble
Park census tract was over $1,000,000 compared to $119,600 nationally (U.S. Census
2000). The park is large and accommodates many patrons including neighborhood laborers
eating at an adjacent taco truck, golfers practicing on the putting green, and lawn bowlers
perfecting their games. Several men, who work as park staff, drive by in golf carts to
oversee park maintenance, and nannies, looking after children, sit on benches around the
I went to Pebble Park about 4 times a week on weekdays, and after every trip to the
field, I wrote my observations in detailed field notes (Emerson et al. 1995). I focused on a
particular group of nannies that spent time together almost every weekday between the
hours of 10:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M. This group included up to 12 women, but only 8 were
core members who attended the park several times a week and always spent time with one
another. Of this core group, the youngest nanny was 23 and the oldest was 47. Most of the
nannies were foreign born—3 were Mexican, 6 were from El Salvador, and 2 were from
Guatemala—the other nanny, Marlena, was a native-born Mexican–American. The majority
of nannies in this group were live-out workers. The women chose domestic work because it
offered more flexibility and higher pay than previous jobs or other jobs that were available.
Nannies in this group earne...
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This note was uploaded on 09/24/2013 for the course SOCI 001 taught by Professor Dr.tukufuzuberi during the Spring '10 term at UPenn.
- Spring '10