Ethnography of Living Arrangements, Informal Work and Transnational Care. Experiences of Domestic Workers from the Former Yugoslavia in Germany
Situated at the crossroads of mobility studies, studies of care and domestic work and a gender-oriented perspective of labour and migration my doctoral research project explores the potential of mobility and working and living arrangements of women from the former Yugoslavia (mainly Serbia, Bosina&Herzegovina and Croatia), who commute between Germany and their homes under the three-months visa regime, in order to perform care work for the elderly in private households. The project thus addresses both irregular work and regular circular migration, highlighting the specific position of care workers within the German informal care market. My approach to the topic is exploratory, being based on empirically grounded, qualitative evidence drawn from everyday life, and tackling questions ranging from the subjectivation of work to the multiple boundaries between work, life, and mobility. Unlike the majority of the research on the globalization of domestic and care work, my project is concerned with the capacity for mobility, and with routes into mobility for care work abroad, taking into account a variety of geographical, political, social, and cultural contexts.
Phd project is based on in-depth interviews, participant observation and fieldwork notes and diaries. The project’s entire data-gathering process stretched over a period of about two years, from 2015-2018. The interviews were carried out at different locations in the former Yugoslavia and Germany. The rich ethnographic material is used in order to describe and analyse the ways in which neoliberal economies of care in global and local networks have fundamental impacts upon the embodied experiences of women, the strategies women have adopted in order to cope with these changes and women’s cultural and social impacts both in their countries of origin and Germany. The research questions that project will answer are: 1. How women experience labour movement in specific circumstances? 2. How does the experience of performing domestic and care work influence the change of practices in gender order, ideologies and values in the female migrant’s lives? 3. How does performing a care work shape women’s lives? 4. What are the implications of structural conditions of mobility for care work: how do informal networks intersect with formal elements of the domestic and care work sector? 5. How do the intersections of gender/sexuality, nationality/ethnicity, migration, social class and national background configure in the employment of care workers?