2019 Sylvia Forman Prize: Graduate Paper

Congratulations to María Lis Baiocchi, our 2019 Sylvia Forman Graduate Prize winner for her paper, “The Bargaining Power of Love: Access to Rights, Affective Capital, and the Political Economy of Feelings in Paid Domestic Work in Buenos Aires, Argentina,” advisor Dr. Robert M. Hayden (University of Pittsburgh).

The paper builds on the ethnography of intimate labor (Boris and Parreñas 2010), in which feminist scholars of paid domestic work have compellingly shown how the affective bonds and kin-like relationships that domestic workers share with their employers can often become sources of value extraction, exploitation, and one of the primary obstacles to accessing formal labor rights (e.g., Brites (2014); Pereyra and Tizziani (2014); Romero (1992)). Based on ethnographic research with domestic workers in Buenos Aires, Argentina and its Metropolitan Area and drawing from domestic workers’ experiences with access to formal labor rights, the paper looks instead at the ways in which love and trust produce economic value and become one of the primary sources of bargaining power that domestic workers can count on in a context of entrenched intersectional structural inequality between them and their employers and general lack of regard for the rule of law. The paper shows how love and trust are oftentimes a form of capital that workers can use to access formal labor rights and one of the few resources they can draw from and make use of in order to do so.

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