A struggle for recognition: Work life reform in the domestic services industry

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Feminist social scientists around the advanced industrial world have given anxious attention in recent years to the possibility of the 'return of servants': that is, an increase in household purchase of domestic labour services. Feminists have been rightly concerned about the social and economic status of paid household workers. However, they have focused largely on domestic workers' individual responses to problems in their working lives. This article examines solidarity-based strategies directed at challenging economic insecurity and cultural undervaluation of paid domestic and caring work in both private households, and non-domestic settings. It thereby expands the repertoire of strategies included in the debate about paid household work, and its relationship to women's caring and quasi-domestic labour across the labour market.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-37
Number of pages29
JournalEconomic and Industrial Democracy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Domestic labour
  • Formalization
  • Service workers
  • Social services
  • Strategies
  • Unions


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