'With its fine-grained ethnographic detail, skilfully presented in vivid prose, this book illuminates every aspect of the hopes, fantasies and frustrations that constitute the frequently troubled ties and misunderstandings between au pairs and their employers. A huge pleasure to read, Au Pair provides a definitive, indispensable text for addressing this increasingly prevalent facet of family life, with its own suggestions for improving the lives of both au pairs and the families in which they reside.'
Lynne Segal, Birkbeck College and author of Why Feminism?
'A long overdue book that deals sensitively with the experiences of both au pairs and host families. It moves between individual stories and their social context to reveal the tensions and the potential of this unique relationship.'
Bridget Anderson, University of Oxford
Many families leave their children for years to be looked after by young people about whom they know next to nothing, from places they have barely heard of. Who are these au pairs, why do they come and what is their experience of this arrangement? Do they, for their part, find that they are treated as one of the family, and would they even want to be? After a year of careful research, the authors of this book show how most of our assumptions and expectations about au pairs are wrong.
This is the first book devoted to the lives of au pairs, their leisure as well as their work time. We see this world from the eyes of the visitors and their unique perspective on what lies at the heart of our family life. The book does not flinch from documenting the realities of the situation - the racism and the problematic behaviour of the au pairs themselves, as much as the ignorance and exploitation to which they can be subject. The book is a case study in how to come to feel modern life empathetically from the viewpoint of one of those many migrant groups we take for granted and rely on but rarely try to understand.show more