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Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy Hardcover – January 6, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The current discourse on globalization, according to the authors, has little to say about the "migration of maids, nannies, nurses, sex workers, and contract brides," since, to most economists, these women "are just individuals making a go of it." The positive effects of their labor are sometimes noted: the money they remit to home countries is a major source of foreign exchange, and the work they do in the host country enables a large pool of upwardly mobile First World women to pursue productive careers. The negative consequences, which can include emotional hardships caused by leaving children behind as well as physical strains, are rarely acknowledged. Social critics Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) and Hochschild (The Time Bind) point out that in previous centuries the developed world imported natural resources, and now the import du jour is women, ideally, "happy peasant" women who can care for the elderly and disabled, lovingly raise children and provide sexual services for men. The editors have gathered some 15 essays on aspects of "the female underside of globalization"-e.g., Filipina housekeepers in Hong Kong, Latina domestic workers in Los Angeles, sexual slaves in Thailand, Vietnamese contract brides-mostly written by academics working in the field, but largely jargon-free. While one small book can't say everything about a major global phenomenon, Ehrenreich and Hochschild have at least brought attention to these women's plight. Maps not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The editors present a series of articles on the consequences of globalization on the lives of millions of women (now greatly outnumbering men) as they leave the poverty of Third World countries to seek employment in domestic services for affluent women in First World countries. Ehrenreich and Hochschild report that in the post-Communist world, career-oriented, upper-middle-class women of wealthy nations and striving, adventurous women from crumbling poverty come together as mistress and maid. Focusing on more than the traditional movement of labor on the basis of supply and demand, the articles in this anthology explore the ramifications of this transfer of caring skills as it affects the culture in both poor and wealthy countries. Also considered is the enormous rise in the sex trade, both voluntary and coerced. While immigrant domestic labor is nothing new, the various authors from academia and some with personal experience shed new light on this reality. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books; 1st edition (January 6, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080506995X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805069952
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #818,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Jadwiga on April 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
...Nevertheless, this book gives the reader valuable insight into the impact and opinions of women migrant workers in the service trades. All of the anthologized authors write in an accessible style free of academic jargon. I was particularly interested in the articles which did not have an American viewpoint and which presented the views of the women (and occasionally men) involved. For example, in various essays we get to meet Dominican women in the sex trade hoping to form relationships with European men; a college-educated Vietnamese women entering into an arranged marriage with an immigrant man holding an unskilled job in the U.S.; Filipina household workers laughing about the rules proposed by prospective Hong Kong employers; and a Sri Lankan man taking over the traditional woman's role to assist migrant relatives working in Saudi Arabia.
There are some gaps here, such as the lack of first-person narratives and the views of Eastern European women working in Western Europe, but no anthology can be all-inclusive. This book is a good start and will be an intersting learning experience for most readers.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Paul Eckler on December 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy, edited by Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild, Metropolitan Books, Holt & Co, 2002.

Most of us are well aware of the patterns of illegal immigration which bring numerous undocumented workers to the US and other developed countries from less developed countries. Those who work in agriculture, lawn care, and low paying jobs like janitors are well known. This book takes a detailed look at female migrant workers. These include maids, nannies, nurses, those who care for the young and elderly and extends to those kidnaped or sold into the sex slave trade and those who seek marriageable partners in developed countries to obtain visas. A single mother can earn enough in a developed country as a nurse, a nanny or as a prostitute to leave her children behind in the care of a relative and pay for their education and daycare. This process gives her children access to a better education that can lift them out of poverty.

This book is a collection of essays authored with assistance of researchers from numerous third world countries. The sociological aspect is consistent with Ehrenreich's usual works--always rich with social commentary. This time she functions as editor and provides one chapter from her earlier experience at Merry Maids as told in Nickeled and Dimed. Hochschild is professor of sociology at Berkeley.

The major migratory pathways for women are described generally as from south to north. In the US, African American women accounted for 60% of domestics in the 1940s. They have now been replaced by Latinas mostly from Mexico and Central America. In Europe migrants come from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Lisa S. Parham on May 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In brief essays, the authors present generally unbiased academic discussions of the globalization of female workers. Though hardly a new phenomenon, it has dramatically increased in the last 50 years and is a topic that is deserving of this type of examination. The topics are clearly delineated between domestic workers, cheap labor and the sex trade - however, there are unfortunates whose experiences range from one to the other out of necessity, desperation or coercion. This harsh reality of the vulnerability of these women is discussed with jargon-free, scholarly precision. Excellent for libraries, research and the well-read individual.
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By S Wood on March 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
I've always got time for the journalist Barbara Ehrenreich's robust writing since I was lent Nickel and Dimed: Undercover in Low-wage America a few years back. In this book, published in 2002, Ehrenreich along with Arlie R Hochschild have collected a variety of essays that look at how the situation of woman has changed in the last couple of decades as the world economy has become increasingly globalised.

The contributions, as to be expected in collections such as this, vary in tone and quality. All except three are by academics, a surprising amount of the academics are anthropologists whose style verges on the detached in marked contrast to the forthright writing one normally expects of Ehrenreich. The majority of the contributions are focused on the issue of female migrant workers; those who leave their homes in less developed countries to take on work as nannies, maids and cleaners in the richer countries of the world. The extent of this trade is enormous. Countries such as the Philippines and Sri Lanka receive billions of dollars yearly from millions of contract workers who work in the Gulf States, the U.S. and other countries. The precarious position of these workers, the attitudes of their employers and their often-exploitative working conditions are in many cases appalling. The irony, which is made clear, is that these workers are "imported" to carry out the caring and cleaning that rich professional woman are unable to carry out in the two full-time worker model that has developed in the west, and the fact that their male counterparts will not share the burden of domestic duties.
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