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Homeworking has been given an attractive, even glamorous, image by the spread of information technology into the home. The traditional portrayal of the manufacturing homeworker sweating over an ancient sewing machine for a pittance is, we are told, a thing of the past In this book, Annie Phizacklea and Carol Wolkowitz question this assumption, and reveal what conditions are really like for women who do paid work at home. This text provides an up-to-date overview of all types of home-based work, arguing that homeworking replicates wider divisions in the labour force. Consequently, its potential for improving women's employment opportunities is limited. Using original research, the book outlines the advantages and disadvantages, the pay and conditions, and the family situations for contemporary women homeworkers. The authors show that gender, class, racism and ethnicity are key factors in constructing the homeworking labour force.
They acknowledge the shared position homeworkers occupy as women, as well as the differences experienced by clerical manufacturing and professional homeworkers, and they question whether new technology in itself can be the way forward to a better paid, less onerous form of homeworking. This book should be an important contribution to sociological and policy debates on homebased work, and useful reading for academics and students of the sociology of work, industrial relations, women's studies, race and ethnic studies, organization studies and human resource management.
Carol Wolkowitz is a Reader in the Department of Sociology. Her research has involved a number of different areas of gender studies. She has a long-standing interest in gender in Indian history and politics, stemming from her doctoral research on women politicians' careers in South India. Since then much of her work has focused on gender and employment. She is co-author of two books on homeworking and home-located work, Homeworking Women: Gender, Class and Racism at Work (1995) and Homeworking: Myths and Realities (1987). In 2006 she published Bodies at Work (Sage), exploring 'body work' and the relation between embodiment, gender and the labour process. Her other publications include the Glossary of Feminist Theory (1997), with Terry Lovell and Sonya Andermahr, and several articles exploring the use of personal narratives to understand women's roles in the American communities established by the Manhattan Project during the Second World War. She was also co-editor of Of Marriage and the Market: Women's Subordination in International Perspective (1981 and 1985). Besides supervising PhD theses on a wide range of topics, she teaches a postgraduate module on Sex, Gender and Power and the visual methods component of the MA qualitative methods module. At undergraduate level she convenes Sexuality and Society and co-teaches Visual Sociology