Hiring help for the home: Household services in the twentieth century

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The division between home and market has long been a key dimension of family life and shifts across the home/market boundary are important for both gender inequality and the family. Two shifts across this boundary occurred in the twentieth century: women’s movement into paid labor and a decline in household labor. One stylized conception suggests that as women moved into paid labor, they used their new resources to purchase replacements. This article takes up this question, asking whether women’s movement into market labor led to the commodification of the home. It does so by combining evidence from primary and secondary sources about women’s reliance on services to offer a picture of how services have been used. The article argues that household labor is infused with emotional and relational content which has made it difficult to replace.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-212
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Family History
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2015


  • Commodification
  • Household labor
  • Outsourcing
  • Paid labor
  • Services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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