Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Nannies-Employment, Nannies-Social conditions, Nannies-Economic conditions, Household employees-Social conditions, Household employees-Economic conditions, Quantitative research, Child care, Nannies, Domestic labor, Employment relations, Object relations, Intersubjective theory, Household employees, Socioeconomic disparity


Because nannies are typically of lower socioeconomic status than their employers, unique power dynamics develop in the relationships between parents and secondary caregivers. This empirical study explored childcare providers' experiences of these dynamics by examining how similarity and difference in the nanny-employer dyad impacted the employer's management style. Sample. The quantitative, exploratory method utilized an anonymous online questionnaire to reach a broad sample of current and former nannies (N=167). Methods. Demographic data on participants' and employers' socioeconomic identities were collected and compared with management style indicators. Findings. The results suggested that similarity and difference in the dyad, both relational and socioeconomic, impact nannies' experiences of their employers' management strategies. Participants who perceived themselves as similar to their employers experienced more autonomy and less surveillance at work, received better compensation, and were more likely to work for very wealthy employers. Nannies who experienced more surveillance and less autonomy tended to be those who spent more time with children over a long employment term, and those whose education level was similar to that of their employers. Winnicott's (1953) theory of object usage and Benjamin's (1988) theory of intersubjective recognition were applied to the findings to explore the implications for internal object relationships in the nanny-employer dyad. Relevance to clinical social work was also discussed.




v, 119 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 97-105)