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The same, but different: the everyday lives of female and male domestic workers in Lagos, Nigeria

Nesbitt-Ahmed, Zahrah Dominique (2016) The same, but different: the everyday lives of female and male domestic workers in Lagos, Nigeria. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This current study explores the everyday lives of male and female domestic workers in Lagos, Nigeria. Drawing on narrative interviews with 63 domestic workers, in-depth semi-structured interviews with 12 employers and fiction-based research, it aims to understand the terrains of struggle and negotiation in the places people work, live and move through on a daily basis. This thesis is also concerned with the ways in which intersecting identities of gender, age, social class and ethnicity shape the experiences of workers. To do this, a framework of everyday life is used, drawing on the work of Susie Scott (2009) that consists of rituals and routines (specific practices), social order (rules that organise these practices) and challenging the taken-for-granted (norm-breaking acts). The three empirical chapters are explored in terms of these three themes. The first one explores how female live-in domestic workers’ everyday experiences of control and resistance are shaped by discourses around perceptions of their sexual availability - which is heavily impacted by the fact that they work and reside within the private space of the home. This is followed by discussions on how female live-outs who are mothers challenge the notion that paid domestic workers should only have obligations to the employing household and not to their own households, but what living out then means for these women – long daily commutes and balancing their paid domestic work with their unpaid domestic responsibilities. The final Chapter analyses how male domestic workers challenge the construction of their masculinity by employers as simultaneously safe and dangerous. Combined, they enable me to make sense of everyday life in paid domestic work and why it is important to do so.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Zahrah Dominique Nesbitt-Ahmed
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Chant, Sylvia

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