Supports the claim that domestic workers particularly

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Unformatted text preview: the claim that domestic workers, particularly live-in domestics, are socially isolated. Researchers interested in employee well-being document that co-worker relationships improve individual job satisfaction by combating social isolation (Fantasia 1988; Goffee 1981). Of course, the degree to which workers can create a cohesive group depends on the circumstances in which they work. Job characteristics, workforce characteristics, and characteristics of the employing organization are important determinants of co-worker cohesion (Hodson et al. 1993). Many characteristics of domestic employment make solidarity and community amongst workers a challenge. For example, the occupation’s high employee turnover makes the workplace unstable (Hondagneu-Sotelo 2001). Workplaces with high turnover have less group solidarity because individuals do not have time to identify with one another (Littler and Salaman 1984). In addition, while shared work experiences are the foundation for maintaining co-worker relationships (Fantasia 1988; Goffee 1981), domestic workers do not share a common work site, limiting their opportunities for personal interactions with similarly employed women (Hagan 1998; Hondagneu-Sotelo 2001). The costs of this social isolation are not merely emotional. Hagan (1998) shows that because of domestics’ limited social networks, they were not able to take advantage of amnesty provisions like their male counterparts with more extensive networks, and therefore could not legalize their status. Employer-employee relationships The majority of research on domestic labor documents the employment conditions women face on the job, particularly their relationships with employers (Clark-Lewis 1994; Hondagneu-Sotelo 2001; Lan 2003; Macdonald 1998; Palmer 1989; Parreñas 2001; Rollins 1985; Wrigley 1995). Domestic workers are often of a different race, class, and legal status than their employers, and their interactions reflect these social inequalities (Glenn 1986; Hondagneu-Sotelo 2001; Rollins 1985; Romero 1992; Palmer 1989; Wrigley 1995). For example, employers dictate the terms of domestic employment, including hours, duties, and work arrangements (Hondagneu-Sotelo 2001; Lan 2003; Rollins 1985; Romero 1988; Wrigley 1995). Employers engage in boundary work to mark their different class and ethnic statuses than the women they employ (Lan 2003). Some employers expect domestic workers to express subservience or deference (Hondagneu-Sotelo 2001; Rollins 1985; Romero 1992; Wrigley 1995). Wrigley (1995) showed that employers expect minority nannies to work harder or complete more tasks than middle-class European au pairs. Domestic workers and their employers also do not have the same right to space in the household (Lan 2003). For Qual Sociol (2009) 32:279–292 281 example, employees eat alone because they feel they do not belong at the table with employers; moreover, certain areas of the home are deemed “off limits” for workers (Hondagneu-Sotelo 2001; Lan 200...
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