Event Date: 17 October 2014
43 Gordon Square
Birkbeck, University of London
London WC1E 7HX
‘Au Pairing After the Au Pair Scheme’ – ESRC Research Project Dissemination Event
A ‘perfect storm’ of long working hours, high childcare costs, the cultural devaluing of reproductive labour and the availability of a large, low-waged labour force from other EU countries, make the UK home to up to 90,000 au pairs at any one time – probably the largest number anywhere in the world. For many British families au pairs are the only workable solution to the ‘childcare crisis’ but they are only affordable because their work is not recognised and their poor conditions are justified through discourses of cultural exchange and adventure.
In November 2008 the UK government deregulated au pairing, removing all official guidance about what an au pair could or couldn’t do and all protections for au pairs in terms of working hours, pay and living conditions. This event reports on findings from a two-year ESRC funded research project that has been investigating the effects of this deregulation and considers the importance of au pairs to UK families. Au pairing is a significant form of low-paid domestic labour that is depended upon by tens of thousands of households in order to balance the demands of work and family life.
The project brings together two important issues for contemporary society – women’s changing relationship to the home and paid work and the growth in labour migration. It worked with au pairs and host families, stakeholders in the sector and collected data from 1000 advertisements for au pair posts in order to understand what au pairing is in contemporary Britain and what part it plays in the lives of au pairs.
Bridget Anderson (COMPAS University of Oxford)
Nicky Busch (Birkbeck)
Rosie Cox (Birkbeck)
Helle Stenum (Roskilde University, Denmark)
Welcome by Professor Sasha Roseneil (Birkbeck):
Introduction by Dr Rosie Cox (Birkbeck):
Dr Rosie Cox (Birkbeck):
Dr Nicky Busch (Birkbeck):
Dr Helle Stenum (Roskilde University, Denmark):
Professor Bridget Anderson (COMPAS University of Oxford):