Open seminar: Good Nanny Care? Au-pairs, Nannies, Parents and Children in Sweden
Children are taken care of by nannies and au pairs all over the world. Paid domestic care plays an important role when families try to solve work/family conflicts, especially so when more and more middle class women take on demanding careers.
In our research project ”Care for children in an era of private market service” (RJ) we analyse the practice of doing care and family in families who hire nannies and au pairs. The study has been carried out in Sweden; a context where private solutions of nannies and au pairs have previously been uncommon due to the vast prevalence of publicly funded day care. However, the last decade, neo-liberal challenges to the social-democratic welfare regime has resulted in a (re)introduction of, and a growing acceptance for, hiring domestic workers. This, we argue, makes Sweden a particularly interesting case to study.
To grasp the complexity of this practice, we have interviewed all participating actors: nannies/au pairs, parents and children. This enables us to compare and contrast the ways in which the participants look upon and experience the caring situation in the family. Including narratives of children currently receiving care by nannies and au pairs is novel, and makes our research a pioneer contribution to the field.
Through making care the hub of investigation, we show the tensions between the role of nanny/au pair, and the actual relationships that this caring situation requires. These tensions are crucial to understanding the (im)possibilities of ‘good nanny care’, we argue.