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Caste and gender in the organisation of paid domestic work in India

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  • Economics

Abstract

There is now a large literature documenting the significance of paid domestic work as a sector of employment for women (Gregson and Lowe 1994; England and Steill 1997). In this article I focus on the ways in which gender hierarchies intersect with those of caste in the organisation of paid domestic work in a village on the outskirts of Delhi, India. The article has two broad aims. First, I seek to examine some of the ways in which paid domestic work is organised in India and highlight the social stratification that is central to the organisation of such work. I focus on part-time paid domestic work in which the tasks performed and the organisation of labour have specific spatial dimensions and are based on the caste division of labour. Part-time paid domestic workers usually live in their own households and visit the employer's house once or twice a day to perform the tasks for which they are paid. They often work in more than one house. Thus, part-time implies that the domestic worker's labour and time are not exclusively available to one employer, unlike the case of full-time domestic workers. Secondly, the article explores some aspects of the gendered re-negotiation of these tasks following urbanisation.

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