What do home health aides, call center operators, prostitutes, sperm donors, nail manicurists, and housecleaners have in common? Around the world, they make their livings through touch, closeness, and personal care. Their labors, both paid and unpaid, sustain the day-to-day work that we require to survive. This book takes a close look at carework, domestic work, and sex work in everyday life and illuminates the juncture where money and intimacy meet.
Intimate labor is presented as a comprehensive category of investigation into gender, race, class, and other power relations in the context of global economic transformations. In chronicling the history of intimate labor in light of the rise and devolution of welfare states, women's workforce participation, family formation, the expansion of sex work into new industries, and the development of institutions for dependent people, this wide-ranging reader advances debates over the relationship between care and economy.
About the authors
Eileen Boris is Hull Professor and Chair of Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she directs the Center for Research on Women and Social Justice. Rhacel Salazar Parreñas is Professor of American Civilization and Sociology at Brown University.
"Eileen Boris and Rhacel Salazar Parrenas's Intimate Labors: Cultures, Technologies, and the Politics of Care is an excellent read and resource for those of us in the field of labor studies. . . I highly recommend this book to anyone engaged in organizing and educating care workers. It is well written, is thought provoking, and challenges us to understand the definition of intimate labor and how it functions in a neoliberal marketplace. In an economy increasingly dependent on intimate labor, this is a must-read volume of essays."
—Emily E. LaBarbera Twarog, Labor Studies Journal
"The selection of articles, and in particular the combination of paid and unpaid forms of intimate labour, will make a useful contribution to global labour studies. The book is a gateway to understanding how intimacy and labour organize themselves in both formal and informal social structures. In addition, it illustrates the ways in which intimacy has become linked with issues of ethnicity, sexuality, race, class, and other power relations in the context of globalization as well as continued socio-political and economic transformations."
—Marina de Regt, International Review of Social History
"This collection represents a stellar interdisciplinary contribution to research on work shaped by personal and emotional interaction. The essays included embody the best quality of the work they explore—a thoughtful and discerning sensitivity to human need."
—Nancy Folbre, University of Massachusetts
"In this exciting new volume, Boris and Parreñas bring together a collection of cutting-edge research on the many surprising ways we daily—mix, split, stir—money with intimate life. Sex workers who sell the girlfriend experience. Sperm and egg donors who give a gift and do it for money. Clients who struggle against the concept of a servant, a nanny, a housekeeper, but also need one. Each encounter with the market raises subtle yet important issues for social theory and everyday life. Were all living it; this book helps us understand it."
—Arlie Hochschild, author of The Managed Heart and The Commercialization of Intimate Life
"This volume's ingenious focus on intimate labor encompasses a fascinating range of activities, from egg donation to end-of-life care, from child care to sex work. Intimate Labors makes an extremely valuable contribution to feminist theorizing on care work and reproductive labor by providing fresh insights on the lives of intimate laborers, as well as on the impact of race, gender, and sexuality in the context of globalization."
—Dorothy Roberts, Northwestern University, author of Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and The Meaning of Liberty