Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Government and International Affairs

Major Professor

Bernd Reiter, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Harry E. Vanden, Ph.D.


Class, Domestic workers, Intersectionality, Organizing, Race, Social Movement


In this thesis, I look at the mobilization of the domestic workers in Brazil as a social movement. In Brazil, the domestic workers have managed to organize continuously for over eight decades using both informal and formal mechanisms to connect workers all over the country in unique ways. By viewing these women and the ways in which they have organized in the framework of a social movement, we can begin to identify their repertoires of contention and how those repertoires have contributed to the successes of the movement. In order to guide this investigation, I ask, how has the doméstica movement in Brazil been successful in reducing the vulnerability of domestic workers? Throughout the development of the domestic workers movement in Brazil, the participants have shaped their repertoires of contention to embody their intersectional narrative and conceptualized it to reduce the vulnerability of domestic work. I argue throughout this work that, as the movement became more successful and better organized, the vulnerability of domestic workers declined. I consider this vulnerability to be a combination of informality associated with the profession for domestic work and the lack of legal protections which apply to domestic workers. This work is a single unit case study analyzing solely the doméstica movement in Brazil from the mid-1930s to the present. I gauge success primarily using two types of within-case observations: 1.) process-tracing through the historical trajectory of the movement to understand the development of the repertoires of contention within four distinct waves of organizing; and, 2.) comparative analysis of official statistics on indicators of the level of informality associated with domestic work.