Home As A Place Of Work

Randall, Jennifer M. (1996). Home As A Place Of Work. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.000049e1


The focus of this dissertation is essentially theoretical, and to do with concepts, assumptions and dualisms relating to 'home'- and 'work'. These are seen as socially constructed concepts in a dialectical relationship with one another; to understand one it is necessary to understand the other. It is argued that the meaning of 'home', in particular, has been largely taken for granted and unquestioned. A method of interpretation, combining hermeneutics with a critical edge, was roughly followed; incorporated within this were the principles of grounded theory that would permit concepts to be developed from data. A theoretical sample that clearly crossed the boundary between home and work - self-employed independents who worked from home - was targeted, resulting in twenty in-depth interviews. The contrasts between (a) an apparent sense of autonomy but lack of legitimacy, and (b) a relatively good work situation but poor market situation were related to the distinction between being in one's own house -and being self-employed - but being seen as 'at home'. There was found to be a contradiction between what were believed to be the generally accepted meanings of 'home' and 'work' and those of the group; whereas the former were not compatible with using home as a place of work, being a contradiction of one another, the latter were. In this situation, strategies such as avoidance of the term 'at home' and a tendency to use 'professional' were evident. A postal survey provided verification and some clarification of these findings. The theoretical analysis draws on the way in which the separation of 'home' from 'work' resulted from a restricted and simplified model of the Industrial Revolution and the Enlightenment emphasis on rationality. Whereas work was associated with rational liberal economic and scientific values which expressed the legitimate Modern paradigm, home remained associated with conservative values and nature - the non-rational.

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