From Servants to Workers : South African Domestic Workers and the Democratic State by Shireen Ally
University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 01 January 2010
Soft cover, 240 pages
In the past decade, hundreds of thousands of women from poorer countries have braved treacherous journeys to richer countries to work as poorly paid domestic workers. In From servants to workers, Shireen Ally asks whether the low wages and poor working conditions so characteristic of migrant domestic work can truly be resolved by means of the extension of citizenship rights. Following South Africa's 'miraculous' transition to democracy, more than a million poor black women who had endured a despotic organization of paid domestic work under apartheid became the beneficiaries of one of the world's most impressive and extensive efforts to formalize and modernise paid domestic work through state regulation. Ally explores the political implications of paid domestic work as an intimate form of labour. From Servants to workers integrates sociological insights with the often-heartbreaking life histories of female domestic workers in South Africa and provides rich detail of the streets, homes, and churches of Johannesburg where these women work, live, and socialise.