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

Raghuram, Parvati (2001). Caste and gender in the organisation of paid domestic work in India. Work, Employment and Society, 15(3) pp. 607–617.



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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