Domestic Days: Women, Work, and Politics in Contemporary Kolkata

ISBN : 9780199461165

Samita Sen; Nilanjana Sengupta
352 Pages
138 x 216 mm
Pub date
Mar 2016
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'Maids' have become an inseparable part of the daily lives of 'middle-class' urban households in India. Despite the fact that increasing numbers of poor women are joining this profession, very little has been written about them, especially the part-time domestic workers, each of whom services a number of households at a time. They are not accorded their rightful status as workers either by the employers, their own families, the Government or traditional trade unions. Isolated in the privacy of employers' homes, the problem of recognizing their work or organizing them is the same as for women isolated in their own homes. Another important reason is that most such women are rendered voiceless by their social location: unlettered; staying in 'illegal' settlements; migrants; working to survive; performing 'feminine' work both paid and unpaid, and both devalued. This book is therefore about making the unheard heard. It draws from personal narratives of part time women domestic workers residing in two slum-settlements of Kolkata, who speak about their work, lives, dreams and despair. By moving between the workplace and the homes of the workers, this book makes a departure from general accounts of labour and talks instead about labouring lives.


Preface and acknowledgements
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
1 The Profile: Work, Family and the Settlements
2 Migration, Settlement, and Work
3 Labour Market: Constitutive Space of Work, Wages, and other Benefits
4 A Pragmatic Intimacy? Familiality, Dependency, and Social Subordination
5 Marriage and Motherhood: Negotiating Femininity
6 Well-being and Being Well: The Happiness Quotient
7 'Nowhere to go': Informality, Social Security, and Organisation
About the Authors

About the author: 

Samita Sen is Professor, Centre for Women's Studies, Jadavpur University, Kolkata; Nilanjana Sengupta is Assistant Professor at the School of Women's Studies, Jadavpur University, Kolkata

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