Satisfied after all? Working trajectories and job satisfaction of immigrant domestic workers in Italy

Elisa Barbiano di Belgiojoso, Università degli Studi di Milano - Bicocca
Livia Elisa Ortensi, Università degli Studi di Milano - Bicocca

In Italy, a rapid increase in the importance of migrant women in the domestic service sector was registered. Despite this, while some features of domestic work are quite documented, many scholars have recently emphasised how the specific situation of migrant domestic workers remains under-researched. In this paper we focus on: the professional paths following the working trajectories of foreign-born women whose first job in Italy was in the domestic sector and the job satisfaction of these women. The data were collected as part of the PER.LA (Percorsi Lavorativi degli stranieri – Foreigners’ Job Trajectories) project (2009). The survey was conducted by the Foundation for Initiatives and Studies on Multi-Ethnicity on 13,000 migrants aged 18 and over, living in Italy at the time of the interview and born in the main countries of emigration. The subsample used for this analysis is made up of 1,453 subjects. The sequence analysis technique is used to analyse the working trajectories while logistic regression models are used to examine the relationship between the professional trajectories and job satisfaction outcomes controlling for confounding variables. The results indicate that their particular professional roles are to some extent determined along ethnic lines by the role their communities play in gatekeeping the sector. However, entering and remaining in the job market with a position in the domestic sector can also be seen as an expression of the women’s agency and migration strategy. The analysis of job satisfaction gives us a hint of this agency: when basic conditions are met, job satisfaction among domestic workers is at quite a high level even among the most segregated workers. Indeed, domestic work allow women to obtain the social prestige in the country of origin rather than reaching a higher social status in the country of emigration.

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Presented in Session 27: Migrant assimilation