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Immigrant Women Workers in the Neoliberal Age$
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Nilda Flores-Gonzalez, Anna Romina Guevarra, and Maura Toro-Morn

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037573

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037573.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2017. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use (for details see http://www.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 12 December 2017

Reinventing Dirty Work

Reinventing Dirty Work

Immigrant Women in Nursing Homes

Chapter:
(p.164) 9 Reinventing Dirty Work
Source:
Immigrant Women Workers in the Neoliberal Age
Author(s):

Lucy T. Fisher

Miliann Kang

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252037573.003.0010

This chapter examines how immigrant women accommodate themselves to the various demands of low-wage, low-status service jobs by engaging in “boundary making,” processes that circumscribe and redefine the performance of “dirty work.” Boundary making refers to material and symbolic processes in which providers of low-wage work impose limitations on its performance while redefining the work as skillful and important. Dirty work is defined as physical labor that involves cleaning and caring for the human body, its products, and its environs. The chapter first provides an overview of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) who provide elder care in the United States before exploring how immigrants working as CNAs make meaning of work that is often construed as dirty work. Using data from fieldwork in three California nursing homes, the chapter shows how CNAs try to bring some measure of dignity to a low-wage, low-status job, and shape their identity formation as workers and immigrants within constraining institutional contexts.

Keywords:   immigrant women, boundary making, dirty work, low-wage work, certified nursing assistants, elder care, California, nursing homes, identity formation

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