Career, Class, and Social Reproduction in the Life Stories of Outsourced Cleaners

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Filipe Augusto Silveira de Souza
Ana Heloisa da Costa Lemos


In this paper, we employ the life story method to investigate the multiple boundaries that, visible or invisibly, have influenced the trajectories of outsourced cleaners working in organizations, delimiting their career opportunities. Based on the Bourdieusian framework, we aim to contribute to the expansion of the debate in the field of career studies by emphasizing the influence of the contextual dimension of analysis in the career construction process. Above all, we privilege a social class perspective, scarcely present in career studies, in which the dominance of constructs such as boundaryless and protean careers reflects the typical emphasis attributed to individual agency. Access to the life stories of the respondents enabled us to unveil multiple boundaries interposed throughout their trajectories, associated with family (family disorganization and early transitions: maternity, conjugality, and insertion into domestic work), educational (early school dropout), neighborhood (local ties associated with low career returns), and professional (intersubjective relationships associated with experiences of pleasure and social humiliation) contexts. Taken together, these boundaries ended up circumscribing the topography of their careers by largely limiting them to providing care and cleaning services.


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Souza, F. A. S. de, & Lemos, A. H. da C. (2023). Career, Class, and Social Reproduction in the Life Stories of Outsourced Cleaners. Brazilian Administration Review, 20(4), e230026.
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