Nguyen Thi Nguyet Minh (2012) Migrant domestic workers in Hanoi

'... the rural-urban differentiation has been increasing and the movement of rural migrants into domestic service and their experiences at work are part of this process. The rural domestic workers migrated as a result of the rural-urban disparity within Vietnam. In the course of migration, they were again confronted with a hierarchical order in the urban labor market, being channelled into its lower-end sectors with demeaning occupations like domestic work. Working in the intimate home sphere of urban families, the domestic workers experienced intensely this rural-urban hierarchy to an even greater degree. It was there that their rural personhood was consumed, scrutinized, supervised, and looked down on at the same time. It was there that they were relegated to their proper place and expected to serve. The social relations within domestic service in Vietnam thus represent a major shift from the ideology of an equal and classless society of the state socialist period, which the country still pursues in theory.

The migratory experiences of the domestic workers showed contradictions. As migrants, they aspired to improve their life or the life chances of their children by migrating to the city. Yet they were confronted with a pronounced hierarchy in the urban workplace, which reinforced their marginalized status. Young migrant domestic workers might wish to escape from the restrictions of village life, yet were even more highly controlled in the city. It was indeed a case of thwarted aspirations. On the other hand, in order to be able to provide for their family, many domestic workers had to leave it; to be able to bring their children up, they were supposed to devote themselves to the care of other people’s children. They were not in a position to “both live with (their) family and support it.” In the words of Mary Romero, they are “restricted to the most basic ‘mothering’ agenda of sending money home to house, feed and clothe their children” while helping urban families give their children better nurturing. This arguably “determines child-rearing and socialization while reproducing class differences,” further accentuating the existing rural-urban gap.'

Nguyen Thi Nguyet Minh (2012) '“Doing Ô Sin” Rural Migrants Negotiating Domestic Work in Hà Nội', Journal of Vietnamese Studies, 7(4): 32-62.

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