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DomEQUAL Report Summary

Project ID: 678783
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DomEQUAL (A Global Approach to Paid Domestic Work and Social Inequalities)

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2018-02-28

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The project “DomEQUAL: A Global Approach to Paid Domestic Work and Global Inequalities” sees paid domestic work as an important object of analysis for scholars who want to understand the impact of globalisation on the construction of social inequality across countries. In fact, the multidimensional transformations induced by globalisation, with increased global-local and transnational interactions, an intensification of international migration, reorganisations of social classes, the urbanisation of rural and indigenous populations, and changes in gender norms, lifestyles, household organisation and welfare regimes, have had a massive impact on the situation of domestic workers across countries.
In this perspective, the DomEQUAL project has a three-fold aim:
1. to provide new theoretical insights on transformations in the social position of paid domestic workers, focusing on the social, economic and legal ‘fields’;
2. to contribute beyond the state of the art to feminist scholarship on the “intersectional” character of social inequalities;
3. to explore the role of different social actors in the “strategic field of actions” of labour rights for domestic workers.
This is done through a comparison between the transformations in the situations of PDWs in recent decades (1950s-now) in the following countries: Spain, Italy and Germany in Europe; Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil in South America; and India, Philippines and Taiwan in Asia. These nine countries are interesting cases for comparison because of their different positioning within the process of globalisation, the specificities of their socio-cultural contexts, and because they have all experienced significant mobilisations for domestic workers’ rights.
The project is carried out by the Principal Investigator and the Core Team (three post-doctoral researchers and one research assistant for 3 years) based at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice (Italy), with the support of nine country-experts (for 1 year) who will provide statistical data and interview material from the countries under study. It is also supported by leading experts in this field of study who compose the project’s Advisory Board.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

So far all activities have been undertaken that were considered necessary to achieve the proposed Milestone results.

A) Progress towards Milestones:
Milestone 1: Preliminary work by the PI: in the first 3 months of the project, the PI has worked alone towards: i) finalising the hiring of the research assistant, the post-doc researchers based in Venice, and the nine country experts based in the country-cases; ii) drafting the background material for internal use; iii) launching the DomEQUAL outreach communication platform (website, Facebook and Twitter).
Milestone 2: Before the beginning of country-experts’ ethnographic work (June 2017), the research team based in Venice has finalised the background materials for its internal use (already drafted by the PI) including general profiles of country cases, a general overview of the research themes, and shared bibliographies (through Mendeley).
Milestone 3: Lists of requests from the PI to the country experts by May 2017 before they start the ethnographic work and in different phases. These requests have been prepared with the post-doc researchers and specified all statistical data, profiles of key informants to interview and archival material to be recorded. In accordance with these guidelines, quali-quanti data have gathered by the country experts and forwarded to the PI on a rolling basis. The PI and country experts stayed in close contact via regular emailing and online calls to formulate new requests and solve any upcoming issues.
Milestones 4, 7 and 8: the PI, the other members of the Team and the country-experts have undertaken several initiatives related to publications:
- publication of the edited volume “Domestic Workers Speak”, London, Open Democracy, 2017 (edited by Sabrina Marchetti and Giulia Garofalo with Penelope Kyritsis) [open access]
- publication of the (online) edited volume “Beyond ‘maids and madams’: can employers be allies in new policies for domestic workers’ rights?”, Open Democracy, 2018 (edited by Sabrina Marchetti and Giulia Garofalo with Jennifer Fish and Eileen Boris) [open access]
- publication of the peer-reviewed article “The Global Governance of Paid Domestic Work: Comparing the Impact of ILO Convention No. 189 in Ecuador and India”, Critical Sociology, pp.1-15, 2018 [open access]
Moreover, a couple of edited volumes have been currently submitted.
Milestone 5: Short outlines and updates for the website, Facebook and the RNDWR newsletter prepared on the basis of the field trips, also making use of the photo material collected during the missions.
Milestone 6: Country experts submitted overviews about country profiles, actors, etc. Specific working materials have been produced as templates and timetable for the Country Experts. These materials were not meant for publication, but for the internal use of the PI to have a overviews of the data collected.
Milestone 9: At the moment 3 Symposiums held in Venice at the Hosting Institution, as local workshops in Europe, Latin America and Asia with the participation of local scholars and the Country Experts.
B) Making of fieldtrips: The PI went on a fieldtrip to each country under study. The purposes of these fieldtrips were: 1) to make the PI acquainted with local realities of PDW; 2) to allow the PI to share her views with local experts from academia and civil society; 3) to strengthen the collaboration between the PI and each country-expert; 4) to disseminate information about the project to local academia during a workshop in each country.
The field trips to Asia and South America had a duration of max 45 days each (max 15 days in each country). For Germany and Spain, given their proximity, the field trips lasted max 5 days. For Italy, none field trip has been managed since the PI is already based in the country; there it has only been a workshop meeting.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Scientific achievements and progress beyond that of the art:
1) With this project, we are expanding the knowledge about the condition of paid domestic workers with a large comparison in terms of its geographical dimension (Europe, Asia, South America) and historical dimension (1950s-today). In so doing, we concentrated in particular on the socio-economic and the legal conditions of these workers. No studies on paid domestic work have ever had the same opportunity to involve such a high number of countries in such diverse locations.
2) We are doing so by applying a new concept from the debate on social movements – ‘strategic fields of action’ from Neil Fligstein – to the case of paid domestic workers for the first time. The “field of labour rights” is the one we choose for analysis of the interaction between different social actors, their actions and their strategies. This will allow assessment of which type of actor is most effective in improving the legal framework for paid domestic workers. This application of Fligstein’s theory to paid domestic work represents an absolutely novel contribution both to labour studies and social movements studies.
3) we are gathering data in order to preparing the ground for methodological experimentations which have been recommended in the field of ‘intersectionality’ but have never had the opportunity to be tested in such a large empirical comparative study. I am referring in particular to advances in statistical analysis (multi-level and multi-group methods) that analyse how gender, race, class, etc. differently interact depending on the context. This is an important methodological advance in understanding the construction of inequality in each country and thus how it could be changed.

The dissemination of all the intermediate and final results of DomEQUAL has been organised at three different levels:
1) For the wider audience (practitioners, activists, students, scholars): through the DomEQUAL website. This contains information about fieldtrips and events, abstracts of publications and media outcomes, and country profiles written in simple language, easy to download and circulate. Updates on the website have been advertised via FB and Twitter. The activities of the project have been advertised also via the newsletter of the Research Network for Domestic Workers’ Rights.
2) For specialist academic audiences: in addition to the website, an important tool for the dissemination of DomEQUAL’s results has been the constitution of an Advisory Board of renowned international scholars in this field, which have been regularly updated about the new scientific advances of the project in order to disseminate them in their academic communities. They have been involved in the workshops and Symposiums.
3) In the countries where the fieldwork takes place: local scholars, practitioners and activists have been invited to participate in the workshop meetings that took place during the PI’s fieldtrips.

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