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Nursing Care and Stigmatised Labour

'Is This Even Work?'

Based on an ethnographic study amongst professional caregivers (nurses, nursing aides and attendants) in three medical establishments in Kolkata, this article explores how reproductive/use-value labour when brought into the public realm as productive/ exchange-value labour survives its association with servile, sexual, menial, feminine labour and continues to remain stigmatised. It examines the nursing labour market to interrogate how the precise nature of the labour performed, structures the perception of the worker of herself as an inferior, performing disreputable, stigmatised labour. Within the grids of gender, class and caste, work and workers mutually constitute each other to define what respectable work is. Such perceived value of work plays a pivotal role in justifying low wages, social recognition and identity as a worker.

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