• Doing what ‘Works Best’: Exploring the Narratives of Mothers who Work as Strippers

      Annett, Michelle Lesley; Department of Sociology
      Despite a large body of research exploring the experiences of working mothers today, there is little literature focusing on mothers who take part in stigmatized and unconventional forms of paid labour. Taking up this line of inquiry, my MA thesis project explores both micro and macro-level understandings of the narrated experiences of four women in Canada, who are both mothers and exotic dancers, with the overarching question: ‘how do these women navigate and negotiate their socially constructed identities and practices as both mothers and sex workers?’. This thesis is informed by feminist methodologies and a broad array of literatures on social reproduction, social surveillance of mothering practices, the intensification of mothering, women working in the sex industry, and occupational stigma of exotic dancing. My research consisted of four semi-structured phone interviews with women in Canada (all in the province of Ontario) who have (either currently or in the past) navigated both roles of mothering and stripping simultaneously. Through my interviews, I explored how the women in my study negotiated the work of social reproduction, the forms of support they had access to, and the barriers they have faced. My findings illuminate that due to limited access to affordable services in Canada, the mothers I interviewed rely on informal assistance from their key supports to provide necessary care work that the mothers could not fulfill due to the responsibilities of their paid work. Mothers also stress the necessity of managing their occupational stigma to comply with dominant ideologies of maternal caregiving by constructing personal communities and adopting techniques of secrecy and trust in order to enhance their ability to combine paid work and unpaid care. Overall my MA thesis offers insight into experiences, supports, and constraints that women face as they navigate the demands of paid labour, domestic work and unpaid caregiving in stigmatized and precarious conditions.
    • Precarious Work and Communities: The Impact of Neoliberalism on Working Class Politics

      Maich, Grace; Department of Sociology
      Precarious work, which refers to work that is poorly paid, lacks benefits, and where workers have relatively little political power, has been on the rise in North America in the last few decades. If precarious workers are isolated and unengaged, they will not be able to represent their political needs. The goal of this research is to clarify the relationship between precarious work and levels of community engagement and social support. Using feminist political economy and hegemony perspectives, this project engages with the question of whether precarious work has a direct impact on community engagement and social support and how demographic variables moderate this relationship. A quantitative analysis of 2014 telephone survey data done by the Poverty and Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario project demonstrates the effect of precarious work. Results show that precarious work has a large significant negative effect on social support but an inconsistent impact on community engagement. I conclude that more information is needed about participation in extra-parliamentary activities to fully understand whether precarious workers suffer from lack of political representation. However, precarious workers are clearly more isolated than other workers and this may contribute to continued intergenerational precarity.