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David du Toit


Despite the large body of scholarly research that has addressed the various challenges encountered by female domestic workers,
there exists a notable gap in understanding the experiences of male domestic workers in South Africa. The present study seeks to bridge this gap by exploring the experiences of ten black African migrant male domestic workers in Johannesburg. Drawing upon Katz’s framework of disaggregated agency, encompassing resilience, reworking, and resistance strategies, the study demonstrates that in the absence of collective resistance through unionisation, male domestic workers employ resilience and reworking strategies to improve their material well-being. Decision-making processes regarding migration to South Africa, engaging in job-hopping, and engaging in multiple piece jobs are examples of the resilience and reworking strategies used by male domestic workers to improve their living conditions. This study shows that paid domestic work in South Africa, whether performed by men or women, is not without
challenges, but that male domestic workers exhibit agency by utilising various strategies to navigate and mitigate some of these challenges.

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