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Abstract

Rae is a fifty-five year old African-American woman from Atlanta with a tenth-grade education. She has cleaned and cared for children in a few different families' homes for much of her life. She lived in with one family for ten years and has done day work during the rest of her career. In at least one job, she had a close relationship with her employer (a woman) and the children of the white, upper middle-class family. She has also raised her own children. She is married, but her husband no longer lives with her. He was underemployed during the time they lived together, making her income the family's primary source of financial support. Rae has always worked full-time, either for one family or different families five days per week. She has never paid income taxes. On the one or two occasions when employers volunteered to pay Social Security and other taxes, she responded vaguely and the employers never raised the issue again. She now earns $155 per week and receives a Christmas bonus, perhaps a week's vacation pay and occasional hand-me-downs of food and clothing from various employers. She has no medical coverage. Employer families have occasionally paid for doctor visits, but she recently experienced some new problems and does not feel comfort-able asking any current employers to cover her expenses.

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