Au Pairing and Domestic Labour

Ann Oakley’s website has a comprehensive yet succinct summary of the findings of her 1974 study into housework. Students could use the 11 points provided by Oakley here in a group activity to discuss and further summarise each point.

The class could then move onto to listen to Laurie Taylor’s BBC radio broadcast (Thinking Allowed) which, in the episode shared here, begins with Ann Oakley discussing the significance of this research and reflects on what has changed since the study was published.

Discover More Laurie Taylor’s BBC radio broadcast, Thinking Allowed

The show then moves on to consider the role of au pairs within families. Rosie Cox joins Laurie Taylor to discuss her co-authored work that looks at the lives of au pairs in contemporary Britain, along with the families who host them. Cox asserts that au pairing has become indistinguishable from other forms of domestic labour. 

Students could then conduct their own research into the experiences of au pairs, using the following news articles as idea generating texts:

BBC News – Au pair recruitment ‘like the Wild West’ says expert  

Discover More Au pair recruitment

The Telegraph - The truth about au pairs:

Discover More The truth about au pairs

Evening Standard - It’s all gone au-paired shape. What is life really like for London’s au pairs?

Discover More What is life really like for London’s au pairs?


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