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International migration, "domestic struggles" and status aspiration among nurses in South Africa

Hull, Elizabeth (2010) 'International migration, "domestic struggles" and status aspiration among nurses in South Africa.' Journal of Southern African Studies, 36 (4). pp. 851-867.

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Abstract

The achievement of upward mobility through participation in international labour markets has become possible for nurses in the context of a ‘new’ democratic South Africa, but this contrasts sharply with the predicament of many in the post-apartheid context, for whom economic vulnerability and unemployment are the prevailing norm. Such a stark contrast has tended to complicate the domestic relations experienced by nurses who, as working professionals, often have significantly greater financial resources and career flexibility than their husbands. Looking at the possibilities and constraints that are created for nurses in their social relationships particularly with their husbands, I draw on Belinda Bozzoli’s concept of ‘domestic struggles’ in order to emphasise the multiplicity and changeability of gendered relations, instead of assuming a single patriarchal status quo. Fixed representations of gender roles nonetheless play an important part in nurses’ own commentary on migration. While many nurses speak enthusiastically of the possibilities of seeking work overseas, others draw upon familiar representations of female domestic duty to condemn migrants for neglecting their family in pursuit of financial gain. I argue that this criticism is rooted in a fear of the threat that migration presents to existing nursing hierarchies, as a new and powerful tool for status acquisition in the post-apartheid context.

Item Type: Articles
Keywords: South Africa, international migration, migration, nurses, nursing, gender, health, family
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Anthropology and Sociology
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Anthropology and Sociology > SOAS Food Studies Centre
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
ISSN: 03057070
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): 10.1080/03057070.2010.527641
Depositing User: Elizabeth Hull
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2011 16:29
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/12608

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