The Effect of "Migrant Women's Capital" Working in Domestic Service in Spain

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 18:30
Oral Presentation
Alberto DEL REY, University of Salamanca, Spain
Jesus RIVERA-NAVARRO, University of Salamanca, Spain
Tania PANIAGUA, University of Salamanca, Spain
Recent decades have witnessed considerable dynamism and change in domestic service in Spain. Social, economic and demographic developments in society have led to both the massive incorporation of women into paid jobs and a rapid ageing of the Spanish population, which has increased the demand for domestic workers. This demand has been covered largely by migrant workers.

The aim here is to analyse the job trajectories of migrant women that are working, or have worked, in domestic service in Spain, paying special attention to the effects of the economic crisis. It should be noted that domestic service in Spain, both from a legal perspective and in practical terms, encompasses both housework and the care of dependent persons in private homes, generally combining both these tasks. We consider three decisive factors in these women’s labour trajectories: human capital upon arrival (job experience and level of education), social networks, and family circumstances, which we refer to as “migrant capital”.

This study has involved 34 in-depth interviews with migrant women that are working or have worked in domestic service. The fieldwork conducted between November 2015 and November 2016 was based on a theoretical sampling of an intentional nature. In other words, the aim was to achieve a heterogeneity of profiles according to the women’s provenance (Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe), legal status (regular or irregular), family circumstances upon arrival (with/without partner; with/without children), and level of education.

The study reveals a major heterogeneity of situations due largely to the sector’s poor regulation and each woman’s different conditions upon arrival. Initial insertion, labour trajectory and the effects of the crisis are highly influenced by these two aspects. For migrant women, working in domestic service is indeed a good opportunity for finding work, but at the same time it presents numerous pitfalls.