Female Domestic Cleaners in the Gig-Economy: Status Construction on the Informal Labour Market

Wiesböck, LauraORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8741-7922 (2023) Female Domestic Cleaners in the Gig-Economy: Status Construction on the Informal Labour Market. XX ISA World Congress of Sociology, June 25-July 1, 2023, Melbourne, Australia.

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Abstract

Previous studies show that gig-economy-supported work opens new ways in which gender inequalities are (re)produced. This is especially the case regarding female cleaning staff in private households, where gender inequalities intersect with migratory experience, ascribed ethnicity or socioeconomic background. The spatially and linguistically fragmented group predominantly works on the informal labour market and poses a challenge for trade union strategies as well as for scientific research, which is reflected in the insufficient data available to date.
The aim of the research project GigClean, funded by the digitalisation fund of the Vienna Chamber of Labour, is to close this gap. The methodological design consists of 15 problem-centered interviews (PCI) with female platform-based cleaning workers in private households in Vienna. Interviews are conducted anonymously and, if desired, in the first language of the workers. The study is accompanied by an advisory board consisting of labor law experts and trade unionists to develop information material for household cleaners regarding their own rights.
This paper discusses the symbolic and material violence that cleaners encounter as they perform their jobs in isolated and unprotected environments. The findings reveal that the logic of the platforms, namely the visible oversupply of workers, enhances reserve army mechanisms and therewith wage pressure and underpayment. Overall, interviewees highlight experiences with behavior from clients that intentionally or unintentionally targets to damage their personal autonomy, bodily integrity and dignity. However, the aim to reclaim agency by setting social boundaries was mentioned as a common approach by the interviewees. Rather than remaining in a submissive role, cleaners construct a sense of independence, pride and power, e.g. by demonstratively showing not to be intimidated by threats of being reported as illegal worker or accusations of theft. These strategies for status construction in partially degrading working places will be the focus of the paper.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Event Organiser: ISA
Research Units: Current Research Groups > Education and Employment
Date Deposited: 21 Aug 2023 05:49
Last Modified: 21 Aug 2023 09:45
URI: https://irihs.ihs.ac.at/id/eprint/6423

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