Twentieth-Century Housewives

Meanings and Implications of Unpaid Work

Edited by: Hege Roll-Hansen, Gro Hagemann

The era of the modern housewife definitely belongs to the past. Since the 1960s tremendous changes have occurred concerning the economic and social roles of married women. In retrospect the housewife era now appears to have been merely an interlude. Nevertheless, in its different forms, housework has been an occupation of most adult women during most of the twentieth century. Like the feminists of the 1960s and 1970s, the authors of this anthology are going into this most 'trivial' of all fields. Rather than investigating the social history of housework and housewives, the articles look at the conceptualisations of this work and its performers. The practice and ideology of housework are analysed from a range of scholarly perspectives. The authors include ethnologists, media scientists and sociologists as well as historians. Their main concern is to understand how housework has been interpreted, culturally and economically, as well as the political strategies implicit in these interpretations. The public discourse of unpaid domestic work offers a unique opportunity for investigating central dilemmas of the last century about the relations between the public and the private, between individuals and the family, between work, leisure and consumption, as well as between the genders.

344 pages

Publication Date: 1/1/2005
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9788274772120