Sociology of Housewives

What is common to a homemaker and an assembly line worker in a captitalist materialist society? Borrowing Marx's spectacles, both exemplify Alienation. While Marx concentrated on just the assemly line workers, Ann Oakley's 'Sociology of Housework,' is surely a case in point for all those women slogging at home. The long hours spent in household work, the dissatisfaction with their work, the social isolation make Oakley's 'housewife', the ideal example of Marx's, 'Alienation'.

Housewives feel alienated:
#from the work they produce, from the product of their labour:
#from the process of production: their household work.
#from the species being, or from themselves as a worker

Oakley had interviewed housewives in London, for her study, but the picture remains the same for housewives spread across the world. Its the sensitivity which needs a makeover, that household work, is just another job. It is not only a gender role or a family role, it is also a JOB in itself. Being a full time homemaker and part time writer/journo, I am faced with this question almost every alternate day, " So what are you doing now?" And often this question becomes unnerving for me and several others like me. Household work is also a 'full time job'. Women who are slogging the entire day in the house, doing the same monotonous job, and facing social isolation, are the quintessential exemplification of the industrial worker Capitalist Materialistic society.

Movements for both the rights of industrial workers and women have been comm
on all over the world, yet the role of the housewife is one which has often not got it due share of respect even after all these years. There is respect for the industrial worker, yet a housewife's contribution and role is taken for granted and often never respected. Lack of appreciation and lack of respect even confuse the housewife herself, even s
he finds it hard to believe that her role, is actually also a job. That is where the problem spirals, it becomes a malaise, as the dissatisfaction and the alienation increases.

The situation becomes worse for those who have enjoyed a career before, and then become
housewives. The loss of financial independence and the so called tag associated with a career in a so called regular job, often makes them all the more disillusioned. Its common to hear that journalists have a thankless job, which I totally agree. But whats even more thankless, is the job of a full time housewife. Having handled both the roles, I guess, now I understand what thankless truly means. Will the scenario ever change? I doubt it. More and more students of Sociology( like me) will continue to debate on Oakley and Marx, yet the scenario will not be changing much. Even gender biased television shows like ' Desperate Housewives,,' or the entire range of Housewives of so and so places," cant help but show in a way how alienated a housewife is actually.The lack of appreciation or the alienation are surely the biggest partners of any housewife, across the globe, and they will maintain their loyalty.

1 comment

  1. Excerpts of comments from Facebook:

    journospeak: Sociology of Housewives

    February 22 at 1:22pm · · Like · · Share
    Abhishek Saha and Devleena Ghosh like this.

    Nilabja Chatterjee: Loved it --- every point is so close to my situation ;)-- very well depicted - i guess it is a general mentality that JOB= monetary benefit rest all job is close to unemployment. :)
    February 22 at 2:26pm · Like

    Treena Dey: loved it...very true........had undergone the same plight..........
    February 22 at 9:37pm · Like