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The New American ServitudePolitical Belonging among African Immigrant Home Care Workers$
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Caiti Coe

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479831012

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479831012.001.0001

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Who Deserves What, and on What Grounds?

(p.172) 4 Reciprocity
The New American Servitude

Cati Coe

NYU Press

Both care workers and patients are concerned about the reciprocities of the relationship between them. From the patients’ side, the reciprocities are framed as issues of money: are they getting sufficient work and respect from their employees, in exchange for the life savings they are spending? Are they subject to theft by the strangers they are allowing into their homes? Patients expect to buy care and respect as consumers. Care workers, on the other hand, attend to respect and appreciation—whether in the form of redistribution or in the form of interpersonal recognition. Furthermore, some see themselves as doing God’s work, spreading love and encouragement by caring for someone, rather than giving their labor in exchange for money. As such, they do not expect reciprocity to come immediately and from their patients, but on God’s time, in their hour of need.

Keywords:   reciprocity, gifts, theft, spirituality

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