A Maid's Time? The Everyday Lives of Filipina Domestic Workers in Hong Kong


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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  • Maren Kerstin BOERSMA


Awarding Institution
Award date30 Aug 2016


This thesis offers an original contribution on existing knowledge to time in late modern societies by focusing on the 'lived time' of Filipina domestic workers' everyday lives in Hong Kong. The research focuses on their work time and leisure time and how these are constructed in social practice: how is their time ordered and by what or whom? And how do they experience this? The purpose is to explore how we might describe and understand the time of low-income groups, and particularly low-income migrant workers, against the background of a 'fast life' narrative that is constructed mainly around the realities of middle- and high-income workers.

Based on individual and group interviews, as well as ethnographic work, the research explores how the domestic workers' time is differently shaped by synchronizations with a variety of households, their schedules and life stages. By analysing their stories, it becomes clear that employers have a major role in the way time of domestic workers is constructed, via schedules, preferences and household regulations, not only at work but also in their leisure time. This has a major impact on the way they experience their time, but, together with their status as temporary migrant, also informs their behaviour in creating desired working conditions and futures.