El Trabajo Duro: Mexican Immigrant and Transnational Domestic Workers Negotiating Work, Identity, and the Texas Border
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This dissertation aims to examine domestic work—a low paid service industry that has been neglected in the organizational communication literature. It answers the call to focus on and study actual work practices rather than abstract representations of work. Utilizing organizational communication theories as well as intersectionality as my theoretical lenses, I sought to understand how Mexican immigrant and transnational domestic workers construct and negotiate their occupational identity on the Texas-Mexico border. Using ethnography as method, I conducted 13 semi-structured and in-depth interviews of Mexican immigrant and transnational border crossing women employed as current domestic workers. Additionally, I conducted fieldwork at the local downtown city bus station and at several local city bus stops since domestic workers utilize the local bus system as their primary means of transportation. Sixteen additional Mexican immigrant and transnational border crossing domestic workers participated in “on the go” interviews as they traveled to and from work. In total, 29 current domestic workers participated in this study. Using a grounded theory approach of analysis, two thematic categories were meaningful and representative of the data: domestic workers enact job protection practices and domestic workers find meaning in their occupation as they mediate through particular occupational constraints. Domestic workers construct and negotiate their occupational identity by re-shifting the meaning of work to recognize a sense of ownership and pride in the work they accomplish and by being vigilant of their environment as they seek ways to protect their occupation. They do not detach themselves from the stigmatized work. Rather, they are mindful of their seemingly strained occupational identity and enact new meanings of work that align with their lived experiences of pride, dignity, protection, and vigilance. Even though the challenges and strategies are difficult to navigate and accomplish, their purpose does not waver. Domestic workers are mindful of a promising future and more importantly they have a tenacious responsibility to their families.
Gonzalez, Ariadne Alejandra (2016). El Trabajo Duro: Mexican Immigrant and Transnational Domestic Workers Negotiating Work, Identity, and the Texas Border. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from