Intersectional histories, overdetermined fortunes: Understanding Mexican and US domestic worker movements.

Tilly, Chris, Georgina Rojas-García, and Nik Theodore.

In Gendering Struggles against Informal and Precarious Work (Political Power and Social Theory, Vol. 35), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 121-145, 2018.


Recent research begins to explore how organizations of informal workers function, and succeed or fail. Using cases of domestic-worker movements in Mexico and the United States, we seek to extend this research by adding historical analysis of the movements’ evolution through a cross-national analysis of movement differences. We draw on concepts from the social movement and intersectionality literature. Historically, the two movements have been propelled by multiple streams of activism corresponding to shifting salient intersectional identities and frames, always including gender but incorporating other elements as well. Comparatively, the US domestic-worker movement recently has had greater success due to superior financial resources and more facilitative political opportunities – advantages due in part precisely to intersectional identities resonant with potential allies. However, this relative advantage was not always present and may not persist. Social movement concepts and intersectional analysis thus help understand both historical changes and cross-national contrasts in informal-worker organizing.

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