Professionals and Saints: How Immigrant Careworkers Negotiate Gender Identities at Work

  • Cinzia Solari


This chapter examines the meanings that Russian-speaking immigrants, women and men, assign to paid caring labor and the deployment of distinct discursive practices. The term “discursive practices” draws on the work of Michel Foucault. For Foucault, discourse is not language but a structure of statements that is historically and structurally specific and embedded in the material world. To study discourse is to study practices of preservation or reproduction (Foucault 1972, 1991). Salzinger (2003: 22) argues that feminist poststructuralists, in an attempt to correct tendencies toward “essentialism” in previous feminist theory, have shifted from talking about “gendered subjects to gendered meanings—looking at the symbolic logics and internal patterns through which a particular discourse successfully ‘made sense’ of sexed bodies.” The cost of this shift, according to Salzinger (2003: 22), is that the focus on meanings has detached discourse from practice leading to “symbolic systems disconnected from those who articulate them and from the practices through which they are enacted.” In using the term “discursive practices,” I aim to emphasize the Foucauldian notion that discourses are embedded in structures that are historically specific and are reproduced through the practices of individual and institutional actors.


Jewish Identity Discursive Practice Immigrant Worker Emotional Labor Hegemonic Masculinity 
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© Gökçe Yurdakul and Y. Michal Bodemann 2007

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  • Cinzia Solari

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