Journal Article

"Ghar Mein Kām Hai" (There is work in the house): When female factory workers become "coopted domestic labour"


This article examines the utilization of female Muslim factory workers, in a north Indian woodworking industry, as domestic labour in the homes of their employers. The ethnography illustrates the importance of considering hidden forms of domestic-sector employment where workers are coopted into domestic tasks. The illumination of ‘coopted domestic labour’ has implications for understanding the breadth and scope of the sector and contributes to debates around its regulation, definition, growth, and feminization. Female Muslim factory workers did not see ‘coopted domestic labour’ as a livelihood ‘choice’ but as a stark form of exploitation enabled through employers’ tactics, such as the use of advance payments, and through structural continuity across domestic and industrial contexts which situated women at the bottom of the labour hierarchy. It also involved complex negotiations around reputation, character and practices of purdah (veiling) which, whilst already an issue for those working in factories, became intensified when entering the homes of others. The contribution of this paper is to place these processes of cooption into a specifically gendered context and to bring discussions of the role of advance payments into debates on paid domestic labour and Muslim women’s labour force participation.

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Chambers, Thomas
Ansari, Ayesha

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences\Department of Social Sciences


Year of publication: 2018
Date of RADAR deposit: 2018-04-12

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of "Ghar Mein K?m Hai" (There is work in the house): When female factory workers become "coopted domestic labour"


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