Call for Participation and Papers – Working in the Home

What is work? Where does work take place and how do we define work? The months spent in lockdown in the UK and throughout the world have challenged the already unstable boundary between private, domestic life and the world of public, salaried work. As many of already knew, work is not something that only takes place in an office, during the 9-5 working week. A great many workers take their work home while struggling to balance working commitments with childcare and housework. Yet the way our society is structured, with workplaces and schools demanding a specific timetable, forces us to think about work outside the home as fundamentally different and more important than domestic working in the home. This structure disenfranchises women, who disproportionately and overwhelmingly complete the majority of the childcaring, housework and household management on which our society relies. It’s a structure that serves to maintain our cultural prejudice towards domestic labour, contributing to the silence around this often invisible work – it also contributes to the assumption that paid work is more important than any other labour. 

By blurring the lines between home and work, the domestic and the public, the covid crisis has given us an opportunity to rethink how we view work. What if we were able to re-imagine work in the home and work outside the home as all part of the same continuum of work? Our research project ‘Working in the Home’ is designed to raise awareness about the inequality produced by our currently rigid cultural distinction between housework and salaried work, and the gender inequality associated with this. With businesses responding to the pandemic by experimenting with more flexible working conditions that allow work from home or for less commuting there seems to be opportunities to move away from the traditional working week and to more progressive working arrangements that create space for childcare and domestic labour culturally as well as practically. 

Our project is focussed on collecting surveys from anyone with a domestic or working experience they would like to share. We want you to share your story! We are also interested in articles of approx. 500 words on any of the following topics or related subjects. We are hoping to reach as many people as possible from different fields and backgrounds so we ask that articles be written in a clear and easy to read style with minimal academic language:

Technology and the home

Smart household items and domestic work

Domestic work and gender

Feminist approaches to the home and work

Science fiction or speculative approaches to the home and domestic work

The public private divide

Business’s changing responses to work in the context of covid 19

Government and the home

Home life in the context of covid-19

Please send abstracts of no more than 150 words to emilycoxpalmerwhite@gmail.com and m.ryder@lancaster.ac.uk.