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date: 21 April 2024

Domestic Service 

Source:
The Oxford Encyclopedia Women in World History
Author(s):
Swapna M. BanerjeeSwapna M. Banerjee, Althea Spencer MillerAlthea Spencer Miller

This entry consists of two subentries:

Paid Work

Unpaid Housework and Family Labor

Domestic service as paid work can be broadly defined as employment of nonfamily members for executing various kinds of household tasks such as washing, cleaning, cooking, personal care, taking care of children and the elderly, gardening, and so on, to ensure proper upkeep of the home, public institutions, or businesses, such as hotels, boardinghouses, or dormitories. Domestic service, paid or unpaid, has been performed since antiquity by lower social groups, such as women and children, across any geopolitical locale. The nature and character of domestic service, however, changed over the centuries. What began as slave labor in ancient Greece and Rome took the form of serfdom in medieval Europe and was later replaced by indentured laborers and black slaves in colonial and pre–Civil War America. In contrast to slavery and serfdom, domestic service is a modern form of labor in which workers are paid wages in cash or kind or both, although with very little protection or benefits that come with other forms of modern employment.... ...

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