For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Invisible Work"

by Kaplan Daniels, Arlene (1987)


Our folk understanding of "work" focuses on those activities you "have to do" to get paid for them. Women 's work is correspondingly devalued, for it is either unpaid or limited by the demands of the unpaid work in the home. This understanding also includes a moralforce. One should contribute to society by working. This paper shows the restrictiveness of these commonsense understandings and discusses the kinds of work that consequently disappear from view. I focus especially on the work involved in the social construction of daily life and in the maintenance and development of institutions. Finally, I present the rationale for expanding the concept of work to include many activities not previously considered in the folk concept: a keener awareness of the work involved in social constructions serves to dignify the labor and engender respect for the workers who do it.


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Social Reproduction, Domestic Labour, Women and Work, Home and Work, Charlotte Gilman, Mothering, Care Work

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