Through the use of in-depth qualitative interviews, Modern Day Mary Poppins: The Unintended Consequences of Nanny Work examines the experiences of and relationships between nannies and their employers. Laura Bunyan uncovers the depths of caring labor while exposing the complicated nature of the relationships formed in care work and their impact on work experiences. Modern Day Mary Poppins reveals that the hiring process for nannies, the personal relationships formed between families and nannies, and work experiences are not straightforward or one-dimensional. Bunyan sheds further light on the long-term implications of early gendered work experiences, and the ways they position women to perform precarious labor.
Laura Bunyan is assistant professor in residence at the University of Connecticut, Stamford.
Chapter 1: Hiring Decisions: Employers Dilemmas
Chapter 2: Pathways to Nanny Work: Education, Status and Employment
Chapter 3: The Ties that Bind: Doing Gender and Expectations of Care
Chapter 4: Gender and Power: Interactions in the Workplace and on the Homefront
Chapter 5: Nanny Work: Hard Lessons Learned
Conclusion, Implications, and Suggestions
Modern Day Mary Poppins is an important book. Laura Bunyan takes the unique approach in studying nannies who share similar cultural and social capital to their employers. Dr. Bunyan discusses how societal pressures push parents to give their children additional advantages through the education and private lives of their nannies, while paying close attention to the contradictions of labor being valued and taken for granted that is inherent in the employer-employee relationship by focusing on gender, and class. This work has deep implications for how we understand privileged opportunities as well as the reproduction of competition.
Laura Bunyan’s Modern Day Mary Poppins reveals the complex, intimate, and sometimes messy connections between nannies and the families with whom they work. Inspired by her own experience as a nanny and grounded in data from in-depth qualitative interviews with nannies and their employers, Bunyan explores how issues of attachment and power in nanny work reify inequalities reflected within our larger society, exposing the array of complexities that emerge when care is commodified. Modern Day Mary Poppins is a compelling read that challenges what we think we know about who provides care, why they do so, and how and why particular providers are selected for employment.