Carework in the Division of Labor of Gender and Professionalism: An Institutional Ethnography of Teachers’ Assistants in Special Education in Taiwan
Xiu-wen Huang(Bureau of Social Affairs, Tainan City Government)、Heng-hao Chang(Department of Sociology, National Taipei University)、Wen-hui Anna Tang(Department of Sociology, and Center for General Education, National Sun Yat-sen University)
This paper discusses the carework of teachers’ assistants in Taiwan’s special education system. Adopting an institutional ethnographic perspective and starting from these assistants’ experiences, we have analyzed their work knowledge and presented their working conditions and professional status as teachers’ assistants in intimate contact with their handicapped students. Our study found that Taiwan’s special education system has a unique position in the government of the institutions, one which is intertwined with a division of labor according to gender and professionalism. In the name of professionalism, with the special education law and regulations as guides and mediation in the division of labor between “mind” and “body” work, the teachers’ assistants are assigned to care for the students’ bodies and to do the “dirty work.” Teachers’ assistants thus compensate for the deficit of care to support students with disabilities; and they form the lower ranks in the stratified structure of the special education system in Taiwan.
special education assistants in Taiwan, carework, institutional ethnography, gender, professionalism