This study aims to explore what it is like to be a cleaner in the Netherlands. Drawing on the dirty work theory, it answers the question of how cleaners in the Netherlands cope with the dirty work stigma.Design/methodology/approachThis study used a qualitative approach: 24 cleaners were interviewed and the researcher participated in a three-month cleaning course. By doing so, an insiders’ perspective was taken. Drawing upon the dirty work theory, a thematic analysis was made.FindingsCleaners take great pride in their work, but because of their social invisibility, they are not recognized by the people they work for, and they fail in being proud of themselves. This has moral consequences since cleaners start doubting whether they are seen as equal. Eventually, cleaners have an ambivalent relationship with their job.Practical implicationsGiven the moral consequences, FM practitioners and researchers should take these findings into account. As FM value is dependent on the quality of the relations between FM and its stakeholders (e.g. cleaners), FM is challenged to think about its responsibilities toward cleaners and other dirty workers in its context.Originality/valueThere is not much research done in cleaning. The research that is done focuses on efficiency and organization of cleaning. Only little research focuses on the cleaner, an insiders’ perspective is scarce.
Facilities – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 8, 2019
Keywords: Qualitative research; Cleaning; Stigma; Facilities management; Dirty work; Relationship value