The business of care: Private placement agencies and female migrant workers in London

Farris, Sara R.. 2020. The business of care: Private placement agencies and female migrant workers in London. Gender, Work & Organization, 27(6), pp. 1450-1467. ISSN 0968-6673 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article presents the results of a qualitative research project on private domestic and care placement agencies in London. Although there is a paucity of empirical studies on these private actors, they have become increasingly important in the domestic and care sector in the UK. In a context of growing commodification and marketization, the article shows how domestic and care services constitute an extremely profitable ‘industry’ in which large companies are increasingly investing. Drawing on content analysis of agencies' websites and in‐depth interviews with agencies' managers/owners, migrant workers and key informants, the article sheds light on these intermediary figures' marketing and business strategies as well as on the ways they contribute to establish the language and practice of domestic and care work as a business. Furthermore, it highlights the employment conditions and selection criteria established by these private agencies for female migrant workers, particularly in a context in which commodification/marketization is expected to foster more professionalization. The article thus fills a significant gap in the literature on domestic and care work, gender and migration by analysing the ways in which for‐profit recruitment agencies have become important players in the care industry.

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Funding Information:

Leverhulme Trust Fellowship. Grant Number: RF‐2017‐649\8

People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007‐2013). Grant Number: 300616


commodification of care, female migrant workers, marketization of care, private care and domestic placement agencies, professionalization of care, working conditions

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30 July 2020Accepted
8 September 2020Published Online
26 November 2020Published

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Date Deposited:

21 Sep 2020 13:48

Last Modified:

10 Mar 2021 16:02

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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