Anna Sosnowska. 2014.

Sprzątanie w wielkim mieście. Polskie imigrantki na nowojorskim rynku pracy. Część 2: Sprzątaczki w domach prywatnych jako przedsiębiorstwa usługowe z marką etniczną.

 

CMR Working Paper, Nr 77(135)


Abstract

Cleaning and the City (Part 1 and 2) The text, consisting of two parts, presents conclusions from the exploratory research on the Polish female niche on the New York City immigrant labor market – cleaning. It points out the crucial character of the working class niches on the Western labor markets for the image of Poland and for Polish identity itself. Critically referring to Waldinger’s theory of ethnic queue, ethnic niche and immigrant and ethnic enterprise as well as to historical research on transformation of the domestic workers’ social status. Part 1 attempts at explaining why Polish immigrants have not established a niche in the sector of Manhattan’s office cleaning. The circumstances of the change in the ethnic queue that were not identified by Waldinger are pointed out and discussed. Part 2 presents an interpretation of domestic cleaners’ work as an immigrant small enterprise working in sector of personal services and relying on the ethnic brand. Housecleaners as Personal Service Enterprises and Ethnic Brand (Part 2) An interpretation of domestic cleaners’ work as experienced by Polish immigrants in New York City is presented in this text. It argues that the elements of this work that cleaners appreciated themselves are the characteristics of the small immigrant enterprise whose place on the market relies heavily on strong ethnic brand. These characteristics are: significant amount of autonomy; operating under the owners’ own financial risk and on the basis of contract between relatively equal partners; depersonalized, standardized and professional service is delivered under conditions of trust and with significant amount of emotional labor. This immigrant business sector relies on immigrant networks and recommendation. A ‘Polish maid’ is an ethnic brand appreciated in New York City.
 

Keywords

labor migrants, New York City (United States), cleaners, ethnic queue