Document Type : Basic article


1 PH. D Candidate of sociology, Al-zahra university, Tehran

2 Department of sociology, Al-zahra university, Tehran


The present study has described and analyzed the experiences of women domestic workers from living in multiple and different worlds. The aim of this study was to understand the lived experiences of these women as a silent and marginalized group due to the lack of an official position in the legal structure and the weakness of research. According to the statistics of the International Labor Organization, there are currently about 100 million domestic workers in the world, most of whom are women and include the informal economy. First of all, the questions of this study are based on the description of the salient points of domestic worker women's experience of the work and life situation in a context of different worlds. In what situations and with which mechanisms do these women experience difference and inequality? How does the perception resulting from such an experience manifest itself in people's consciousness? How can the more structural implications of such situational perception be explained?

The approach and method is based on the existential phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, which is focused on the experience of the embodied subject in the world, whose perception is determined based on her situation in relation to others and the world. The statistical population included female domestic workers aged 25 to 55 in Tehran, who were selected through snowball and criterion-related sampling. The results of the study show that the outstanding levels of perception among these women are the result of situations of powerlessness, ambiguity and not being at ease that is clearly the result of the predominance of informal relations, away from legal supervision and intermingled with cultural practices that reproduce a structure of power hierarchies at the everyday level. Such a context makes the intention or motivation and daily practices of both sides subject to the possibility of multiple readings; This is largely due to cultural contexts and social beliefs regarding moral systems, dignified principles, and the reasons for placing people in hierarchical social stratifications. We are constantly acting on the basis of perception and awareness affected by such entanglements, and we enable the reproduction of epistemic systems that We are not necessarily aware of its consequences. In the theme of instrumentalization, the participants found themselves in situations of excessive accessibility, worthlessness and identification with the work they do. Ambiguity implied a perceptual background that was, at the first level, affected by borderline relations between the worker and the employer in an informal atmosphere and based on non-standard conditions or lack of supervision and rules, mixed with empathic, authoritarian, pitiful and exploitative behaviors that Their interference in people's experience, in addition to the fact that it had led to indirect indications of such relationships; A form of sensory confusion followed. In the third theme, continuous exposure to the symbols of inequality, difference in social status and levels of Prosperity under contradictory situations could be recognized in the entire narrative of the participants, which shows the state of not being at ease. The meaning of such a space of plurality and multiple/contradictory possibilities of action/reaction can be understood in the shadow of Merleau-Ponty's belief that perception is inevitably accompanied by action; Perception, which is an inevitable aspect of our existence in the world, and always affects us through direct or indirect contact with others, their beliefs, their history, and their stories. A common focus of the literature on paid domestic work in the world is that the gender and social class of domestic workers are central to explaining the structural oppression of domestic work. Such an approach is confirmed in the present study. They show that the inequalities reproduced in domestic service flows are largely maintained through emotional ambiguities in the midst of such intersections.

At the macro level, it can be said that the market model of care - of which rental home care is one of the main pillars - not only reproduces existing social inequalities, but also reinforces the traditional gender division of labor and institutionalized servitude. Unlike the market care model, a public care model that is included in the public system of the country, allows to consider gender, class and cultural equality relations. The public model of care also considers the responsibility of care and the care needs of the lower social classes and marginalized groups. While such a commitment is specific to social biases, it is necessary to problematize gender bias in the public model of care and to revitalize the social struggle to recognize care (including domestic work) and its value.


Main Subjects