Paid Domestic Workers, Care Work, Slovakia, Nannies, Babysitters, Welfare Regime, Gender Regime, Paid Childcare
Drawing on interviews with both providers and employers of paid domestic work, thisarticle focuses on the emerging market for paid domestic workers in Slovakia. Analyzing hiring strategies and practices of employers, I examine the role of welfare and gender regimes in the employment of paid domestic work. I demonstrate that, while the welfare regime sets the structural conditions for the employment of paid domestic workers, individual motivations for employing one are related to the contradictory pressures of parenthood and employment among the Slovak middle classes. The second part of the article argues that ideas and practices related to who is a suitable caregiver are to a large extent driven by local cultural practices of childrearing and conventional patterns of gendered identity. In particular, employers hire elderly women as nannies because their gendered biographical experience—as mothers of now grown-up children—makes them culturally acceptable nannies, as they can serve as “granny substitutes,”providing children with expert care without threatening the mother’s role asprimary caregiver. In English, extended summary in Russian.