Resisting inequality but loving those cheap ironed shirts

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter is based on empirical findings from a longitudinal study of
Danish expatriates and their domestic staff in New Delhi. The premise is that most Danish expatriates strongly react—or resist—when they move to India and encounter what they experience as obvious inequality or inhumane work conditions in domestic service. I argue that “resistance” can be used as an analytical tool to explore transformative life situations, such as privileged migration when moving is not only a question of crossing national borders but also about moving up the social ladder in a place where poverty and inequality is explicitly present. The empirical findings show that the Danish expatriates have to negotiate embodied habits, moral values and images of themselves in their encounters with domestic staff. In their everyday life, they go to great lengths to provide decent work conditions for their domestic staff during their stay, and they use levelling strategies to overcome the uncomfortableness of their new social position. Moreover, the Danish expatriates draw on familiar discourses from back home along with novel local frameworks of understandings from middle class—and elite Indians—and other expatriates to justify their reactions and actions as employers. Thus, they seem to re-narrate their novel practices into frameworks that fit their prior value system, rather than transforming it.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResistance in Everyday Life
EditorsNandita Chaudhary, Pernille Hviid, Giuseppina Marsico, Jakob Villadsen
Number of pages20
Publication date2017
ISBN (Print)978-981-10-3580-7
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-10-3581-4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


Bibliographical note

Schliewe, S. (2017). Resisting inequality but loving those cheap ironed shirts: Danish expatriates’ experiences of becoming employers of domestic staff in India. In N. Chaudhary, P. Hviid, G. Marsico, & J. Villadsen (Eds.), Resistance in everyday life. Constructing cultural experiences.(181- 201) , Singapore: Springer.


  • Privileged migration Domestic workers Experiencing inequality Resistance Transformations Moral values

Cite this

Schliewe, S. (2017). Resisting inequality but loving those cheap ironed shirts. In N. Chaudhary, P. Hviid, G. Marsico, & J. Villadsen (Eds.), Resistance in Everyday Life (pp. 181-201). Springer.