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3. What Is Work? Comparative Perspectives from the Social Sciences

图书名称:Re-Drawing Boundaries: Work, Households, and Gender in China
图书作者:Barbara Entwisle and Gail E. Henderson    ISBN:
出版社:Berkeley: University of California Press    出版日期:2000年

Rachel A. Rosenfeld

A full understanding of individuals' lives in the context of social change requires a broad definition of work: effort resulting in some product or service for exchange or domestic consumption.[1] Work can be done in the home (broadly defined)[2] or outside it. It can be done for pay (such as a wage, a salary, or profit) or direct exchange or neither. In this chapter I use these two cross-cutting dimensions—work location and returns—to organize discussion about work, gender, and households (see table 3.1). I consider the nature of the work shown within each cell; linkages between the cells for the same individual, the household, or the economy; “movement” of work from one cell to another; and, finally, some of the problems with using these dichotomies for work location and for pay. Examples come mainly from the United States and Europe, although a few from China are drawn from other chapters of this volume. A full application to the China setting is undertaken by Harrell in chapter 4.

WORK LOCATION AND RETURNS

Work for Pay outside the Home

Industrialization brings an increase in formal wage jobs, with the timing and context of this increase related to characteristics of the labor force. In eighteenth-century America, where land was plentiful and labor was not, the first factory workers in New England textile plants were farm daughters, although the typical occupation for employed women then was domestic servant. Women's participation in the labor force increased over time, especially with the growth of service industries and women's education, but

 
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TABLE 3.1 Categories of Work
  For Pay or Profit Unpaid
Outside the home 1. Wage Work 3. Volunteer work
  Informal sector Community action
  Self-employment Family business
Home based 2. In-home business 4. Housework, child care
  Home-based employment Family business
  Informal sector  
men maintained their majority in the labor market into the end of the twentieth century: in 1870, women were 15 percent of the U.S. labor force; in 1960, 32 percent; and in 1992, 47 percent (Reskin and Padavic 1994, 25; Weiner 1985). In many developing countries that are part of the capitalist world system, industrialization first brought more industrial wage jobs for men. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, however, women—often young, single women—became the favored workers for transnational corporations as part of the “global assembly line.” With the help of improved transportation and communication technology, as well as political agreements establishing export zones with low or no tariffs, transnational corporations could move labor-intensive parts of production (and later, of information processing) to Third World countries, where labor (especially women's labor) was very cheap (Ward 1988). While such jobs generally make up a small part of total and manufacturing employment, they have been the location of rising participation for women. Along the U.S.-Mexico border, for example, where the maquila (assembly plant) program was established in 1965, women comprised 80 percent of the workers in electronics, apparel, and other light industries by the mid-1980s (Tiano 1990).

Women's wage work outside the home has been higher in state socialist countries and in others with ideologies of gender equality based on equal labor force participation, such as Sweden, the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany), and China. But even in these countries, men's employment rates are somewhat higher. In the former German Democratic Republic, among those born in 1951–53 and 1959–61, 97 percent of men and 88 percent of women held jobs for pay in 1989 (Trappe and Rosenfeld 1998). In urban China, earlier retirement for women than for men explains some of the gender difference in employment (chap. 7). In rural China, gender differences in nonfarm employment are found among the married, although not the unmarried, population (chap. 8).

The boundaries between paid jobs outside the home and other types of work are not always sharp, however. Jobs in the former category are not just “regular” office, shop, and factory jobs, but also include paid work in agriculture and other primary industries. Industrialization, commercialization, and revolution can increase the relative number of agricultural wage and salary workers, as compared with unpaid family farm laborers. Outside jobs (cell 1) also include self-employment situated away from home, which describes about 60 percent of the self-employment outside of agriculture in the United States (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1998, tables 661, 662).

Two additional distinctions relevant in this context are those between contingent and noncontingent work and between informal and formal sector jobs. Polivka and Nardone (1989, 11) define a contingent job as “any job in which an individual does not have an explicit or implicit contract for long-term employment or one in which the minimum hours worked can vary in an unsystematic manner.” American social scientists use the term “contingent work” to describe flexible work arrangements increasingly used by employers since the 1980s to control labor costs in the face of rising international competition, economic downturns, and rapidly changing markets. Migrant agricultural laborers, restaurant servers scheduled day-by-day or week-by-week, and college teachers hired “by the course” are examples. While some workers choose such jobs because they have alternative sources of income or are involved in additional activities (e.g., school, child care), for others it is the choice of these jobs or no jobs. Women seem to predominate among contingent workers, although according to recent U.S. statistics, the gender difference is most evident among the employed between the ages of 20 and 44 (Bureau of Labor Statistics 1995).

The informal sector is a somewhat related concept. Portes and Sassen-Koob (1987, 31) define the informal sector as “all work situations characterized by the absence of (1) a clear separation between capital and labor; (2) a contractual relationship between both; and (3) a labor force that is paid wages and whose conditions of work and pay are legally regulated. … The informal sector is structurally heterogeneous and comprises such activities as direct subsistence, small-scale production and trade, and subcontracting to semiclandestine enterprises and home workers.” Researchers argue that this type of work is growing in contemporary advanced and developing economies as a result of globalization of the division of labor. “Capitalists and TNCs [transnational corporations] … use informal-sector workers, particularly women, instead of formal wage workers to avoid labor legislation and to keep labor cost low” (Ward 1990a, 2). This concept puts more emphasis on the vulnerability of the worker than on job insecurity and variable hours. Zhang (chap. 10) gives examples of exploitation of young unmarried women from rural areas working as wage laborers for small family enterprises in the near suburbs of Beijing.

Home-Based Business or Employment

One feature of industrialization is change in the location of work from farm or homework shop to factory, office, or store. In both industrialized and contemporary less-industrialized countries, however, the home can be a place for paid or income-generating work. The boundary between “work” and “nonwork”—spatially, temporally, and perceptually—can be very fluid in this case. In the early twentieth century in the United States, for example, because of norms and sanctions among many ethnic groups and employers against married women's employment outside the home, women earned money at home by taking in boarders, doing piecework, or producing crafts. Many of these efforts were not officially recognized as work (Bose 1984). In the United States, China, and elsewhere, there is a continuing tradition of agricultural and nonagricultural sidelines run by farm women that bring cash into the family (chap. 6; Entwisle et al. 1995; Sachs 1983). Even if not always recognized as results of “real” work, women's egg, butter, and vegetable sales can be crucial for the family economy (Fink 1986; Rosenfeld 1985). Under some circumstances, this lack of recognition of in-home work can have advantages. Margery Wolf (1985) discovered that because under some Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regimes rural women's sidelines were classified as housework, these women could earn private incomes sometimes greater than those of men working full-time on the farm collective.

Among nonagricultural households also, many small businesses operate from the home, and the informal sector often involves home workers. In industrialized societies, technological advances with respect to equipment size and communications may increase the proportion of workers who are paid for work they do at home. In 1997, 18 percent of workers in the United States did all or some of their work on their primary job in the home, with about a third of these self-employed (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1998, table 663). Some—but not all—of these jobs provide flexibility for workers and employers. Home workers in the United States tend to be either clerical and blue-collar contingent workers or high-status professionals in “regular” jobs to which they telecommute, blurring the line between home and office (Reskin and Padavic 1994; Tomaskovic-Devey and Risman 1993). In China, economic reforms have led to an explosion of family-owned small businesses, and often production activities take place in the same space as domestic activities (chap. 10).

Working for pay within the home seems more compatible with women's domestic work than work away from home. In the United States, however, there is not a large overall difference by sex (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1998, table 663). The proportion of those working at home who were self employed rises with age and is especially high at 65 and over (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1993, 404), suggesting that those in life cycle stages other than child rearing find working at home convenient. In research on rural China based on data collected in 1989, Entwisle and colleagues (1995) reported that men were more likely than women to work in a small household business (although they did not distinguish whether the business was located in the home or outside it).

Work without Pay outside the Home

As discussed later, it can be difficult to draw the lines for work/nonwork in this cell, given the general definition of work I use. I include here unpaid family workers in businesses located away from home, and also organized volunteer work and other community efforts. Blau, Ferber, and Winkler (1998, 56) define volunteer work as “tasks, performed without direct reward in money or kind, that mainly benefit others rather than the individuals themselves or their immediate family.” In the United States, the proportion of the population doing volunteer or more broadly defined community work seems to have declined over the last two decades. Women are somewhat more involved than men, although the types of volunteer work differ by gender (F. Blau, Ferber, and Winkler 1998). Among American farm families in 1980, men and women were about equally likely to be part of a community organization such as a church, PTA, or Rotary (57 and 61 percent), but men were much more likely to be part of farm-oriented organizations (Rosenfeld 1985). At least some of this unpaid work is done for pay by government or private workers in other countries.

Community action is often studied as political activity rather than as work and tends to be described in community case studies. In China one might put the efforts of “model workers” (e.g., chap. 5), neighborhood vigilance committees, and political activists in this cell, as well as “volunteer” political duties required by the Communist Party. Corvée and other kinds of forced labor might also fit here.

Unpaid Work in the Home

If a regular wage job is the “typical” job for nonfarm men in many settings around the world, unpaid work in the home or compound is “typical” work for women. Here the boundaries between work and nonwork, and among types of work, can be especially cloudy, with consequences for the recognition and value of women's activities in particular. Housework is often trivialized and neither considered “real” work (Hochschild 1989) nor given high priority. Work that can be viewed as domestic work is not valued or rewarded as highly as the same work done elsewhere (chaps. 2 and 10).

Everywhere, even in the most gender-egalitarian countries, women do most of the housework, child care, and elder care (F. Blau, Ferber, and Winkler 1998). There is, however, some variation in the unevenness of the workload across countries and among groups within countries. The division of household labor between employed spouses looks surprisingly similar in the United States and Sweden, for example, with husbands doing about a quarter of household tasks, on average, although Swedish men do somewhat less child care and slightly more household chores than American men (Kalleberg and Rosenfeld 1990). Entwisle and colleagues (1994) found that in China, among couples in which the wives were 20–44 years of age, about three-quarters of the wives did laundry and cooked the week before the survey, while three-quarters of the husbands did neither. Urban husbands did more of this work than rural ones, however.

Unpaid home-based work also includes other subsistence work, such as gardening, canning, sewing, and knitting. According to the 1980 U.S. Farm Women Survey, most farms or ranches had gardens or animals raised for family consumption, and three-quarters of the women said raising vegetables or animals for the table was a regular duty (Rosenfeld 1985, 57). In addition, women often work in family businesses, even though they do not receive direct pay for this and are not listed in surveys as “owner or operator.” This is certainly true for farm and rural women in both the United States and China (Entwisle et al. 1994; Rosenfeld 1985). Zhang's fieldwork shows that among Beijing's “floating” population, women's labor-intensive production work done in the home can be viewed as “chores” rather than “real” work, in contrast with men's part of the production and marketing process, which takes place more often away from home: “In men's narratives of labor division and productivity, the roles of their wives and daughters as the primary producers and supervisors of production often fade away in the domestic background” (chap. 10, page 187).

LINKS AMONG TYPES OF WORK: INDIVIDUALS, HOUSEHOLDS, AND THE ECONOMY

The boundaries between categories do not indicate mutually exclusive activities. The type of work a person does in one category of work can affect the work he or she does in another domain and have interconnections with the work of other household members as well (chap. 15). The most obvious linkage is between unpaid home work and work categorized in the other cells. Women's under representation in market work, especially in “regular” wage or salary jobs, is often attributed to their greater responsibility in the home. As noted, women spend more time on domestic work and less on paid work than men in all countries for which data are available—more and less developed, capitalist and state socialist (F. Blau, Ferber, and Winkler 1998). What varies among countries are gender differences in total work weeks and the balance of paid work outside the home and unpaid work within the home. American women who are employed spend less time on domestic work than those not in the workforce, although it is only recently that employed women's husbands have increased the time they spend on housework.

Causality may also vary: Women may spend less time on domestic work because they are employed, or they may cut down their job hours because of greater domestic responsibility. In most Western countries, being female, married, and a mother make it more likely that one is employed part-time, although countries differ considerably in the proportion of the female workforce with reduced hours (Blossfeld and Hakim 1997; Rosenfeld 1993; Rosenfeld and Birkelund 1995). Reductions in job hours in order to care for young children, for example, are not always possible in the United States but have been part of public policy in Sweden and Norway, as well as in other countries such as West Germany (Kalleberg and Rosenfeld 1990; Trappe and Rosenfeld 1998).[3] Controlling for family configuration, spouse's employment, job characteristics, sex role attitudes, and demographic attributes, Kalleberg and Rosenfeld (1990) examined reciprocal effects between hours employed and participation in domestic work among those employed and married or cohabiting in the United States, Canada, Norway, and Sweden. They found no effects for men in any of these countries, but found that hours employed had a negative effect on housework participation for employed American wives—and effects in the opposite direction for women in Sweden and Norway.

As noted, in the United States the greatest sex differences in contingent work emerge in the childbearing ages. Women's informal work has also been described as allowing women to both care for their families and earn money. “Flexibility” and employment at home, however, do not always lead to this outcome. Piecework in the home at low per-unit rates can lead to very long work days and require the labor of other family members, including children (Ward 1990a). “Flexible” jobs can mean heavy work demands that do not fit with home responsibilities. Reskin and Padavic (1994, 160) cite Costello's (1989) interview with a home worker who processed insurance claims: “If you'd [unexpectedly] get six hours of work someday and you have two little kids at home and you only have three hours worth of TV, when are you going to get the work done?” (see also Rosenfeld 1996).

Implicit in much of the discussion about trade-offs between regular wage jobs and other sorts of work as a result of domestic responsibilities is the idea that there are other earners in a woman's family, especially a husband. Not all households have a husband, however, or a husband who has income, or other people who bring in money (Tiano 1990). Even when there are other earners, women's earnings are often important, especially when household income is low. Tiano's study of northern Mexico shows that women working in maquiladoras (foreign-owned assembly plants) and the service sector had jobs because of economic necessity, even when they were not the only ones in the household who were employed.

More generally, though, paid jobs can support the unpaid work of the same individual or others in the family. Off-farm jobs held by varying combinations of household members—depending on the characteristics of spouses in particular and on local labor demand—can help finance farm production (Rosenfeld 1985). At the same time, unpaid work in the home helps support other kinds of work. In the “two-person” career, a wife who entertains, does the husband's research and clerical tasks, and frees him from household chores can be important to a husband's career success (Pavalko and Elder 1993). Employees' gardening and other subsistence food production can allow Third World employers to offer below-subsistence wages (Ward 1990a). Fink (1986, 56) notes that in the United States “Farm commodity production did not stand on its own or pay its own bills during much of the period from 1880 to 1940; rather, it was subsidized by a subsistence economy that has been ignored because it was women's work.”

Women's paid work outside the home can create opportunities for paid and unpaid work by others, both inside and outside the household. Household members other than the mother care for children. In the United States, in 1993, almost a third of the children five years of age and younger were cared for at least part of the time in their home by someone other than the mother, in some cases by a relative or friend without pay, in other cases by someone who was paid (F. Blau, Ferber, and Winkler 1998, 329). Some families take on shift work, so that one parent is always available to care for the children (Presser 1989). A mother who is a nurse, for example, might work the evening or night shift, while the father has a morning shift. There is a generational aspect to such combinations of paid and unpaid work. If women in the grandmother generation are still employed when their daughters are having their families (as is true among baby boomers in the United States), they may not be available to help with child care. On the other hand, the daughters may have to modify their own employment patterns to care for those in the grandparent generation (Rosenfeld 1996). In China, the changing ratio of children to parents and grandparents with the introduction of the one-child policy may have future consequences for such intergenerational exchanges of women's work especially.

Connelly (1992) demonstrates that in the United States women with children are more likely than others to run home day care centers—work that falls into cell 2. Byerly (1986), however, found that in southern mill towns white women employed as textile factory operatives would spend roughly a day's wages for an African American woman to stay in their homes caring for their children and doing other domestic work—informal sector work in cell 1. Such arrangements often depend on the presence of lower class and/or subordinate racial or ethnic groups with few alternative work opportunities (Glenn 1992). Before Equal Employment Opportunity legislation, no African American women—and only a few African American men—were hired in the mills Byerly studied.

For China, where there is little part-time employment in nonfarm wage and salary jobs, Entwisle and colleagues (1994, 36) found almost no difference in work patterns between young married women who did and did not report taking care of children. Interviews with two of the women are instructive. Neither mentions cutting down hours of work to care for young children: “Taking care of children is first priority, so you cannot reduce the time spent on this. But you can ask others to help you.” “It is very important to go to work, but a person should not reduce time on child care for this reason. We would not ask relatives for help. We would hire a nanny.” As Hershatter (chap. 5) discusses, however, 1950s labor heroines were not always in a position to be successful in caring for their children as well as fulfilling their duty to display their heroic virtues.

Linkages between demand for unpaid labor in the home and paid work in the labor market are not just at the individual or household level. Policies that try to help women balance home and job responsibilities, such as paid maternity leaves and reduced hours for mothers (and sometimes fathers), can affect the kinds of jobs to which women have access. In Sweden and the former German Democratic Republic, for example, women were steered away from jobs with higher earnings and authority because of the assumption that they would temporarily leave their jobs or reduce their hours when they had children, as allowed by state policy (Rosenfeld, Van Buren, and Kalleberg 1998; Trappe and Rosenfeld 1998).

Elsewhere, women are selected into jobs based on marital status and fertility. Tiano (1990, 217) states, “For many, particularly older, partnered [Mexican] women who occupy the most vulnerable sector of the female labor force …, jobs in the formal service sector are difficult to obtain, as are positions as live-in domestic servants. Thus, their main employment alternatives involve income-generating activities in the informal sector.” Ward (1990a, 12) cites Enloe (1983) as showing, “In Puerto Rico … TNCs [transnational corporations] have encouraged increased investments in sterilization and birth-control programs to ensure a supply of women workers.”

Unpaid work outside the home (cell 3) is another realm of work in which there are important links to other cells at many levels. In the United States, for example, unpaid volunteer work may be very important to one's job, both as a semiformal requirement (to fulfill “community service”) and as a source of political and business contacts. For those not employed (students, men and women out of the labor force), volunteer work may provide experience that improves their chances on the job market later. Many volunteer activities, such as those in churches, schools, and youth groups (PTA, Girl Scouts, 4-H), are related to child rearing and may involve extensions of domestic work (e.g., cooking for bake sales, sewing for school plays). Although volunteer work is an important part of the American upper and upper-middle class woman's role (in contrast with paid work, Ostrander 1984), and although—as already mentioned—the amount of volunteer work seems to have gone down as women's labor force participation has gone up, recent surveys show that employed people actually do more hours of formal and informal volunteer work than those not employed (F. Blau, Ferber, and Winkler 1998, 56–58).

Participation in unpaid activities outside the home can have a widespread impact on the structure of work and individuals' access to it. Work in cooperatives, political organizations, unions, professional associations, and social movements may lead to either change or preservation of existing economic structures and opportunities. Those taking part in the contemporary American women's movement, for example, generally seek to bring about greater opportunity for women in labor market work, as well as greater support for their unpaid domestic work (e.g., increases in affordable child care). Likewise, labor heroines in China were models for the propagation of new economic arrangements the CCP was trying to impose on rural areas (chap. 5). Many American farmers and their families, on the other hand, belong to organizations or do other community work to try to maintain the family farm and, implicitly, its traditional division of labor.

CHANGES IN WORK LOCATION AND REMUNERATION

Up to this point, I have discussed distributions of individuals among and within the four work categories of the typology I propose and linkages among types of work. There are also linkages among the four categories as changes take place in the relative opportunities for different types of work, with consequences for individual work patterns. Work may shift across the boundaries of household and pay, bringing changes in perceptions, value, and rewards.

As already mentioned, one of the biggest changes in the location and remuneration of work comes with industrialization, as more work is done for pay and away from the home or workshop. This has consequences for the division of labor in the household even beyond the linkages between wage work and domestic work discussed above. With industrialization, many of the products women made with unpaid or paid labor in the home, such as candles, cloth, and clothing, become factory-produced commodities. These factory products may be cheaper overall, but obtaining them requires cash. In some situations, women's ability to earn money at home or in the informal sector decreases as household items are manufactured outside the home. In China, for example, spinning and weaving, including producing textiles for the market, were part of women's domestic work before 1949, but this private production largely disappeared with the rise of centralized production and state-run factories (chaps. 1 and 5; Entwisle et al. 1995). Reform in China has meant a return to or increase in home production for some rural and urban families (chaps. 10 and 15).

At the same time, with increases in women's paid work away from home, more services that formerly were provided without pay within the home become regular or informal sector jobs. With fewer women providing unpaid work at home, the demand for organized children's activities, prepared or ready-to-prepare food, cleaning services, household appliances, and perhaps certain welfare services are likely to increase. Such demand can be fulfilled through small businesses located in the home and also firms of many sizes outside the home. As noted, where the firm or government has to provide these services for workers, it may discriminate against women.

Although not well documented, jobs involving activities also or formerly performed in the home may be especially likely to employ women (England, Chassie, and McCormack 1982). Overall, women are over represented in service industries and nondurable manufacturing, whether in regular or informal sector jobs. Women are more likely than men to be day care and primary school teachers, for example, or to work in the garment industry in many parts of the world. These industries also tend to pay less than others. Zhang (chap. 10) tells of a migrant woman in the near suburbs of Beijing whose husband made her close a profitable leather goods shop but allowed her to run a large day care center. At the same time, what is “masculine” and what is “feminine” varies over time and across cultures, depending on labor demand, characteristics of potential male and female workers, job structures, and the culture. In Europe, for example, where there is school-based dental care, many dentists are women, while in the United States dentistry has only recently increased its proportion of women (F. Blau, Ferber, and Winkler 1998).

PROBLEMS WITH THE FOURFOLD CLASSIFICATION OF WORK

Starting from the cross-classification of paid versus unpaid work and home based versus non-home-based work highlights often-unrecognized work that women are likely to perform. Discussion of linkages among types of work also leads to consideration of the nature of individual, household, and national work patterns. The problems with this classification are to a large extent created by the very boundaries they demarcate, however, and examining these problems can provide further insights into the complexities of studying work.

One set of problems is that of measurement. The boundaries between categories are not always clear. Certain types of work can be done both inside and outside the home, such as informal-sector work and work in a family enterprise. This distinction may be relatively unimportant in some cases. If one is emphasizing various sources of family income and types of family labor, it may not matter whether such work is done physically in the home. On the other hand, if one is concerned with the extent to which women have activities outside the home and whether domestic tasks take place in the same location as work for pay or profit, then this distinction could be important. Of course at times, even if one wishes to distinguish between “home” and “outside” work, deciding where to put a particular case can be difficult (e.g., if the family business is very close to the residence).

The Chinese “inside/outside” distinction illustrates these tensions. Inside work was (and is) women's work: “men farm, women weave” (chap. 1). While this ideal of women's work as “inside” was sometimes taken literally, it masked the reality that women were also in the fields and at the markets (chap. 5). The contrast between the literal ideal and the actual location of activities is important. On the other hand, using the definition of for/ with versus outside the family, rather than physically inside versus outside the home, is very useful, especially in the Chinese context. This dichotomy helps conceptualize work in the last half of the twentieth century in China. Small, family-owned businesses, for example, would be “inside” regardless of where they were located, while new joint-venture employment would be outside. Zhang (chap. 10), though, shows that the physical location of the family business can make a difference in women's involvement. Further, seeing such a distinction as fixed would ignore the changes over time in what is defined as “inside” and therefore suitable for women, as compared with “outside” and therefore inappropriate for women. Zhang stresses how the boundaries of the spaces to which women are allowed free access in the different social strata of the “floating” population change, and how socially constructed spaces shape and are shaped by gender relations. It is not just the site where an activity takes place but also the meaning associated with that site that influences who does the work, in what way, and for what value.

Measurement problems also arise when a person does more than one task at a time. Child care is often combined with other tasks in the home or family business, making it hard to calculate time spent in child care. When there is a family business, determining where production for the family ends and production for pay or profit begins can be difficult. A woman making tamales to sell could also be making her family's dinner. Coleman and Elbert (1983, 3) interviewed one American farm woman who, “when asked to enumerate the hours spent in farm versus home tasks, opened the lid of her washing machine, revealing a common mixture of barn suits, children's jeans, and furniture covers all tumbling around in the soapy water.” Someone with a large garden can sell off the “extra” produce without considering this a home-based business. The worker may see one activity or another as the “real” work at a given time (see also chap. 2).

What is done for “pay or exchange” is also not always clear. In his text on the sociology of work, Hall (1994, 2–3) gives the example of his being a volunteer member of the ski patrol who gets ski lift tickets and discounts on ski equipment. Even more difficult for classification purposes are situations where people provide information, goods, or services without a direct reward. This is true in many community and political efforts, as suggested earlier, but in more private contexts as well. Could “neighborliness” be considered work—for example, helping an elderly neighbor whose family lives in another state? This might be considered unpaid work outside the home, even though there is no direct pay or exchange.

A second set of boundary problems involves the household. When considering different types of work and how they affect and are affected by the work of other household members, what are the boundaries of the household? Does “household” refer to people who are in the same residence, regardless of whether they are family members and regardless of whether they are paid for home-based tasks? Alternatively, is it better to talk about “families” rather than “households”? Davis (chap. 14) emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between families and households for understanding what has been going on recently in Chinese urban housing markets. Family obligations and rights extend beyond coresident units, and household arrangements relate to understandings of such reciprocities. Davis shows how family members redistribute themselves over households with changes in marital status and apartment ownership.

Households may be formed by unrelated individuals. In the Philippines, for example, groups of young factory-worker women living together to save on living expenses often share chores such as cooking or getting water. On the other hand, some households contain paid domestic help, hired hands, or wage laborers (Byerly 1986; Fink 1986). These workers' earnings may help support households other than the ones in which they live. Households can also subsidize the wage work of family members elsewhere. Diane Wolf (1990) reports that in Central Java not only did daughters working in factories and living away from home send back only a small proportion of their wages, but families actually subsidized low factory wages by providing daughters with food, household goods, and sometimes cash. At the same time, savings and gifts from factory wages helped the families survive during a crop failure. Again, simply using a “family/outside” distinction would miss the importance of physical location and its meaning; concurrently, it is important to keep in mind family connections beyond a particular household.

A third set of problems is due to the fact that this classification system does not go far enough in examining patterns and their variations. It sets up overly strict boundaries around different types of work. Examining types of work separately can be useful for recognizing work that might otherwise be overlooked. For example, a more complete understanding of the family economy can be achieved by looking at a woman's work in the separate cells and then the linkages among the cells for her and other family members. Further, while individuals and households do often have the same general interests, this is not always the case, and power differences among family members can influence the particular household division of labor. Diane Wolf (1990) emphasizes that the factory work of the daughters she studied was not always something the parents controlled, nor was it always economically rational for the family in the short run. Focusing on the work of different family members individually makes it easier to study this (see also chaps. 10 and 14).

On the other hand, this classification scheme deemphasizes combinations of work activities. Entwisle et al. (1994) make a good case for considering sets of work activities and their variations. Women often work double or triple “shifts” made up of formal paid work, unpaid domestic work, and income-generating sidelines. But some women (and men) are likely to have fewer shifts than others, and there is variation among people in the content of each shift. “Indeed, it may be that these combinations rather than individual tasks are the object of negotiation, struggle, choice, and control within households. … Studying the implications of one activity for another runs the risk of confusing causality for joint choice” (Entwisle et al. 1994,38–39).

Looking at the work patterns for the household as a whole is also worthwhile. The New Home Economics (Becker 1981) sees households as decision-making units striving to maximize a household utility function. Households are assumed to allocate their members' labor on the basis of relative skills, wages, opportunities, and substitutability. Men specialize in paid work because their time is more valuable than women's in the labor market (they earn more), and women specialize in home production for family consumption. Moen and Wethington (1992) note that such a theory is often applied after the fact, ignores power differences within the family or household, and misses “nonrational” allocation of family resources that are cultural or personal (as illustrated in D. Wolf 1990). It still emphasizes, however, the agency of the family or household in the face of its immediate or changing economic environment (chap. 15).

In general, households respond to changing circumstances—whether within the family or in the larger economic structure—by changing their consumption and production patterns, directly or indirectly. Changing the household allocation of labor is part of this. Lobao and Meyer (1995), for example, found that when there were work changes during the 1980s farm crisis in the United States, women in Ohio farm households tended to increase time spent on household tasks and off-farm work and decrease their farm involvement. When the men made any change, they also tended to increase their time spent in off-farm jobs, but they decreased time for household tasks and increased time overall on farm tasks. (Unfortunately, the results are reported separately for men and women, rather than by family.) Looking at the entire set of members and their work simultaneously is important in studies of household or family well-being and reaction to change, even if there is not a coordinated “family strategy” (Moen and Wethington 1992).

CONCLUSIONS

I defined work as effort resulting in some product or service for exchange or domestic consumption. Such activities can be done for pay or without pay, be home-based or performed mainly outside the home. Within each cell formed by this cross-classification, there are a number of different kinds of work. Paid work outside the home can be a “regular” office, shop, or factory job; self-employment; an agricultural wage or salary job; or some less regulated, less stable, and less secure work. Paid work within the home can be part of self-employment or can be for someone else. Unpaid work outside the home may be volunteer work, neighboring, or community or political action. Unpaid work within the home includes child care and other domesticwork, but also working in a family business. Work in one category may be linked to work in another category at the individual, household, and national levels, as illustrated by the discussion of child care. Further, the same activity may become work in another category when there are changes in the overall work structure, as when many domestic tasks become paid jobs outside the home. While the cross-classification of location and pay highlights these processes, this model also raises problems of measurement, scope, and integration. At least some of these problems are the result of trying to force boundaries on different types and locations of work, insisting on dichotomies in the face of more complex realities. One value of examining the transition from Maoist to reform-era China is that, as with the “inside/outside” distinction, these boundaries are even more fluid than in many capitalist, advanced industrialized societies, where “work” is more—but certainly not completely—segregated as “household” and “nonhousehold.”

This chapter is more conceptual than theoretical. It describes types of work and the linkages among them without pushing on to generalize about what leads to the development of various kinds of connections and how they affect individuals' lives. Some of this theorizing has been done in the women-in-development and informal-sector literature (e.g., Ward 1990a) and some as reactions to the New Home Economics. The discussion in this chapter has focused on the various dimensions of work and on definitional problems—and suggests the need for a multi dimensional approach to comparative and longitudinal research on gender, households, and work. Further conceptual development, however, needs to be driven by theory about dynamics of the work patterns of individuals, households, and the economy.




NOTES

* I thank Heike Trappe and the conference participants for their useful comments.

1. One textbook on the sociology of work adds that the effort or activity “is considered by the individual to be work” (Hall 1994, 5), emphasizing the subjective nature of this concept. It is not only the individual doing the task, of course, but also the perceptions of others that set the boundaries of activities considered to be “real” work and that potentially affect their value and rewards. I will not extend the definition to efforts to manage interpersonal relationships, such as “emotion work” or “expressive tasks” (England and Farkas 1986; Hochschild 1983), unless this is in the context of providing a formal service, such as psychotherapy or community mediation. Even this example illustrates how difficult it is to set boundaries on which activities are “work.”

2. Home-based work can include activities that are part of domestic or income generating work done mainly in the home, but that actually take place outside the home, such as shopping, doing errands, or distributing home-produced crafts or food.

3. Reduction in mothers' hours was part of East German family policy, although the regular work week there was 43.75 hours and the reduced hours 40 hours a week. Some women balanced responsibility in the work force and the home by temporarily taking a job for which they were overqualified (Trappe and Rosenfeld 1998).

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