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Work, Labour and CleaningThe Social Contexts of Outsourcing Housework$
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Lotika Singha

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781529201468

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781529201468.001.0001

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Nuances in the Politics of Demand for Outsourced Housecleaning

Nuances in the Politics of Demand for Outsourced Housecleaning

(p.61) 3 Nuances in the Politics of Demand for Outsourced Housecleaning
Work, Labour and Cleaning

Lotika Singha

Policy Press

This chapter interrogates the ‘need’ to outsource domestic cleaning, alongside implications for gender equality and relationship quality in the outsourcing household. It argues that ‘need’ is not directly related to affluence or status enhancement. The analysis of division of household labour when cleaning is outsourced shows that there is still plenty of housework for service-users to do themselves, particularly tidying up or ‘picking up’ after others. Sharing of this task could aid in progressing gender equality despite the outsourcing of cleaning. In this, if (middle-class) women do not see cleaning as their work, they will not expect (middle-class) men to undertake it either. The chapter concludes that claims of outsourced cleaning pitting the liberation of one class/race of women against that of another risk reducing women’s emancipation to freedom from housework and naturalising housework as women’s work.

Keywords:   division of household labour, emancipation, freedom, gender equality, household, middle-class, naturalising, outsourced cleaning, status enhancement, tidying up

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