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Title: The problem that has a name : can paid domestic work be reconciled with feminism?
Author: Singha, Lotika
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 2148
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2017
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Paid domestic work endures – with its oldest roots grounded in slavery and servitude, and newer ones in contemporary exploitative capitalism. Feminists the world over have analysed its occupational relations in depth to show how they reproduce race, class and gender inequalities, with many domestic workers experiencing inhumane treatment. But feminists also use domestic help. Should such feminists and paid domestic work be condemned, or can it be reconciled with the overarching feminist goals of equality and liberation that encompass all dimensions of discrimination? My thesis approaches this question through an interrogation of outsourced domestic cleaning in the UK and India. The primary data include 91 semi-structured interviews with White and Indian women working as cleaning service-providers and White and Indian female academics with an interest in feminism/gender and who were outsourcing domestic cleaning (or had outsourced previously), in the UK and India, respectively. My analytical approach, rooted in my particular varifocal diasporic gaze, draws on Mary Douglas’s anthropology-based cultural theory, which she used to show how comparative analysis enhances sociological understandings of the workings of the West’s own institutions and culture. My cross-cultural analysis thus takes into account similarities and differences between and within the four groups of participating women, as well as silences in the data. My findings reveal that in the modern urban context, outsourced domestic cleaning can be done as "work" (i.e. using mental and manual skills and effort and performed under decent, democratic work conditions) or as "labour" (requiring mainly manual labour, accompanied by exertion of "natural" emotional/affective labour and performed in undemocratic conditions). The issue at stake for feminism(s) is not just some women doing the demeaning work of other women but the classed evolution of the very meanings of work in contemporary societies.
Supervisor: Jackson, Stevi Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available