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Smith College

Publication Date

Spring 2006

Program Name

The Netherlands: Sexuality and Gender Identity


My independent study project analyzes how through employer relationships with their domestic workers, whether maternalism, personalism, distant hierarchy, or business relationship, social statuses and structural inequalities are reproduced within paid domestic labor in the Netherlands. Using Pei-Chia Lan’s concept of “boundary work” and Mary Romero’s employer typologies as theoretical tools I analyzed four interviews with native Dutch, female employers, and three with immigrant domestic workers. Along with providing an overview of paid domestic work within the Netherlands, my analysis focused employers perceptions of the “Other;” conceptualization of personal relationships, and conceptualization of labor relationships. This research found that employers fell along a continuum, often expressing attitudes maternalism, personalism, distant hierarchy, and business relationship. Yet, within each, the employer was able to reproduce her own identity through the “Otherization” of her domestic worker and within the employer-employee relationship, social hierarchies were reproduced and maintained through daily acts of differentialization, including linguistics, gift giving, working conditions, etc.


Social Psychology and Interaction


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