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Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy [Paperback]

Barbara Ehrenreich , Arlie Russell Hochschild
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 July 2003
This anthology examines the unexplored consequences of globalization on the lives of women worldwide. In a world shaped by mass migration and economic exchange on an ever-increasing scale, women are moving around the globe as never before. Every year, millions leave Mexico, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Eastern Europe to work in the homes, nurseries and brothels of the First World - from Vietnamese mail-order brides to Mexican nannies in LA, from Thai girls in Vietnamese brothels to Czech au pairs in the UK. In the new global calculus, the female energy that flows to wealthy countries to ease a "care deficit", is subtracted from poor ones, often to the detriment of the families left behind. Is the main resource now extracted from the Third World no longer gold or silver, but love?

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Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy + Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World + Bait and Switch: The Futile Pursuit of the Corporate Dream
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (1 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862075883
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862075887
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 46,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The single most important and astonishing statistic in Global Woman is that half the world's 120 million legal and illegal migrants are now believed to be women. Globalisation has its female underside and it involves a process whereby women in rich countries, often those who have succeeded in a tough "male world", find career success only by turning over the care of their children, elderly parents and homes to women from the developing world. The flipside of this is that millions of poor women leave their own children and families and migrate north to serve as nannies, maids and sometimes sex workers. In short there has been a global transfer of the services associated with a wife's traditional role--child care, homemaking and sex--from poor countries to rich ones. The authors think of this transfer in terms of a "care deficit"

The 15 detailed and well-researched essays collected here range from personal recollections to broad economic analysis spanning the globe from Taiwan to Mexico and from Thailand to the Dominican Republic. They cover such topics as the transfer of emotional resources, the pressures global capitalism puts on women and their families and the ways that women's migration has modified relationships between men and women--both through marriage and through the global sex trade. Most importantly, the contributors have brought the personal stories of those the authors call "the world's most invisible women" into the light. This is essential and disturbing reading for all those interested in the effects of global capitalism, along with Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed--Undercover in Low-wage America. --Larry Brown


'A volume of deep insight and impeccable scholarship' -- Patricia Fernández-Kelly

This...reaches right to the dark heart of society’s worst dysfunctions, with stories to make you weep with outrage’ -- Polly Toynbee, Guardian, Book of the Week

We should be grateful for this uncomfortable book which holds up a true mirror to the underbelly of globalisation’ -- Melissa Benn, The Independent Magazine

‘This is a subject much more subtle than brothel life; it’s all our lives’ -- Michael Pye The Scotsman

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Women Of The World 16 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 4 July 2014
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excellent book. has opened my eyes to what is happening in the world after travelling to dubai, vietnam and thailand. gives good information and an eye into male control of women in the world and control of girls. showed different male cultures in different countries and abuse of women - wondering where to go from here myself now. what can we do and the west. people do not know what is happening around the world and in our own countries in the west. we all need to wake up .........and do something about this. globilisation and profits made out of people is horrific especially women. excellen book, researched and informative. have you read Louise Waughs book 'Selling Olga' Can you sleep at night? - I cant. The world and men seem to think this is all normal - sexual abuse, slavery, abuse of migrant labour purely to get rich....
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Overview of Female Migrant Workers 11 April 2003
By Jadwiga - Published on Amazon.com
...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.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking but a passive observer with no recommendations 1 Jan 2006
By Paul Eckler - Published on Amazon.com
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. In the oil rich Mideast, many come from Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Phillippines, and Sri Lanka. In France, they now come from Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria; in Italy, from Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Cape Verde. Generally, migrants have replaced those who once came from poor rural areas of their own countries.

Several chapters on nannies and their problems are especially informative. The hours are long, overtime is seldom paid, time off it minimal, workers are sometimes farmed out to other families, or required to travel with the family on "holiday." The children often become attached to the nanny as part of the family, but this can result in jealousy on the part of birth mothers. Many nannies leave abruptly after an argument.

Various aspects of the sex trade are explored. In the Dominican Republic, married women may voluntarily go to the larger town of Sosua to work as prostitutes in the sex tourist industry. This good money is used to pay the family bills, but husbands sometimes spend the funds on alcoholism and gambling when the wife is away. Some prostitutes hope for a marriage proposal from German tourists. In Thailand, in the less prosperous mountain districts, daughters once were sold into sex slavery when the economic survival of the family required it. Now, rapid industrialization and rising standard of living have created major growth in sex tourism. Industrial workers have more money to spend on prostitutes. Mountain Thais now are more willing to sell their daughters to fund the purchase of electronics and other consumer goods.

In Viet Nam, the war killed many males and a disproportionate number of males were able to migrate to the US after the war. This has resulted in an over abundance of females. Educated females become un-marriageable. Arranged marriages with US citizens is one solution to this problem.

This book provides perspective on another aspect of the woman's rights movement in developing countries. Apparently several previous books have issued, but this subject has received little attention in the overall scheme of immigration policy. I saw no discussion of how these problems should be addressed. Presumably better laws are needed as well as a willingness to enforce existing laws in the case of the sex slavery and sex tourism. Different solutions seem appropriate in the case of licensed nurses who are aided in getting visas to fill a real shortage. The presence of undocumented migrants working as nannies and domestics is yet another problem. Perhaps different solutions are needed for each group. Mixing all of them in a single volume confuses the issues. The book lacks the impact it could have had.

This book is nicely done and thought provoking, but the absence of proposed solutions is a major omission. A collection of charts provide details of the female migrations. Notes. Bibliography. Index.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fact-filled, careful study 8 May 2004
By Lisa S. Parham - Published on Amazon.com
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing 9 Sep 2010
By Christina - Published on Amazon.com
A must read for everyone of every nationality, gender, background, and financial position. Essential to understanding modern women across the globe. An engaging read that you won't want to put down.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Collection of Essays on Issues Involving Women and Globalization 29 April 2010
By lmt324 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Global Woman presents a nice mix of essays that all discuss issues of the global movement of women, particularly from the Third World to First World. In attempts to gain an income for their families, these women face many struggles. From leaving their families in their native countries to submitting to harsh rules by their employers, these women are always under some constant force or pressure. Globalization has been a topic of much study for the last twenty plus years and many books have focused on the politics and economic effects. More and more studies are now demonstrating the human element and how the global movement of people is one result of globalization, one that has many different affects on other aspects of society. Furthermore, these issues of globalization are not isolated to one segment of the population, we as a whole can benefit from certain global processes, but these same practices can also detriment others as well. If we can begin to understand how issues of globalization affect us and out culture, politics, economies, and society, we can begin to offer solutions.

Each essay, whether recounting the tale of a nanny, maid, or sex worker, paints and intimate picture of the daily lives of these women, their struggles, their successes, and the reasons they continue such work. Most importantly, these narratives aren't solely written in third person, but on the contrary, the authors allow the reader to hear first hand from the women: the nannies who care for children while their own are thousands of miles away; the maids who work under tight restrictions to both their professional and personal lives; and the sex workers who may or may not be exploiting themselves or who may or may not be trafficked. In each account, the women have various reasons for getting into a certain line of work and each job presents positives and negatives. Another important point is that these women are not always treated well and they are not always treated bad, they don't always get to exercise free will and they are not always restrained. The women portrayed are both able to make their own decisions yet are products of the decisions others have made.

Unlike the reviewer who claims the author is extremely feminist and that "all women subject to these conditions are victims of globalization and capitalization," I would argue that these essays illustrate that globalization brings with it many interesting side effects, one in particular the movement of women away from their homes and to other countries where they are tied to a certain work structure. Are these situations ideal? No, of course not, but the point isn't to lecture about the ills of globalization, but just to demonstrate some other aspects of the phenomenon.

I agree somewhat with the reviewer that says no solutions are offered to deal with the problems explored. To an extent there aren't many options presented. On the other side, this book seems to be presenting the issues so that others may find solutions and it never pretends that these essays and authors have all the answers. As the editors note in the introduction, "we hope to make the invisible visible again," (pg.12), to present the issues that immigrant women face and figure out how to "improve the lives and opportunities of migrant women engaged in legal occupations...and prevent trafficking and enslavement" (pg. 13).

While I agree with the review about "the topics are clearly delineated between domestic workers, cheap labor and the sex trade" and that the book is "excellent for libraries, research and the well-read individual," I disagree on the careful, fact-filled study. While there are tons of facts and figures, I'm not clear on where they all come from. I see some in the endnotes, but in many places, figures are provided without citation. Additionally, as one review stated, "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 as the same person states, "no anthology can be all-inclusive." Indeed, this volume seems more dedicated to issues involving women from the Global South who migrant to northern countries and the editors and authors make no secret of that fact.

Overall, so far, I think Global Women is a decent overview of the issues surrounding globalization and the global movement of women. I think that often, some of the every day, mundane issues are overlooked with a focus on the broader themes. The best part of the book is the narratives of the women themselves, they talk about their situations, their emotions, and it is plain to see how much of a sacrifice they make. Lastly, I think that this collection of essays is a great start for anyone who either wants to know a little about this topic or those who plan to devote their time to future studies of globalization.
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