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Housework

  • By: Margrit Eichler
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Housework maintains the daily lives of individuals living within private households; that is, the vast majority of humanity. It is easily the most important but least valued work. Without it, societies would collapse, and individuals would not survive. Its economic value equals or surpasses that of the entire market economy. However, much of it is invisible; ironically, including to the persons who do the work.

Most housework is conducted by women without pay. Unpaid work is often not perceived as “real” work, regardless of the fact that most housework is also available for purchase on the market. Many households do employ some people to do part of their housework, such as cleaning, laundry, snow shoveling, window washing, preparing food, or buying clothes. While all housework is ...

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