There is little argument that the current on-demand economy, also knows as, the “gig economy”, is creating career opportunities outside the traditional classifications and reinventing the definition of jobs and work. This is especially true for women, working mothers along with their homes and families.
Households have undergone great changes in recent centuries. However, the influence that design has had on these changes has seldom been shown. Everything that surrounds us is design, as Paul Rand said, and yet we generally do not realise the influence design has on our lives. We know that hospitals are usually painted in light colours because they transmit peace or supermarkets are structured so that we buy more products. But we rarely use these strategies in our homes. At least, we were not so conscious of it until the arrival of the organisational expertise of Marie Kondo (2014).
About 67 million people around the world qualify as domestic workers, 11,5 of whom are migrants, whereas 80% are women. The latter account for more than half of the migrant workforce. Domestic workers play a crucial role as far as the management of homes worldwide is concerned. In fact, they manage households and take care of children, old people and people with disabilities, thus enabling the members of the employer’s household, especially women, to work elsewhere and devote their time and energy to other domains.
Many social and human problems have several dimensions, can be analyzed from different scientific disciplines and are dynamic in nature, that is, their short-term consequences do not match their long-term consequences, because they involve people’s freedom and their ability to learn and change. These problems must be viewed from a broad, dynamic, open approach that is not only interdisciplinary, that is, drawing on several disciplines in order to understand problems in all their complexity, but also multidisciplinary, seeking to develop new models based on broader assumptions than those of the different sciences individually, to find creative, effective, sustainable solutions.
A theorist facing what might seem the purely practical problems of the relationship between work and home; a compiler of arguments about the obviously related topic of vulnerability... Vulnerability is certainly a fundamental aspect of human nature and therefore necessarily related both to moral psychology and the pursuit of moral truth, hence to virtue and vice, since ethics is essentially a practical discipline.
There is a big difference between the households of early twentieth century America and the households of the early twenty-first. Over the last hundred years, forces have wrought changes on households that had been largely unaltered for centuries. Industrialization, electrification, progressivism, feminism, and consumerism, among others, have dramatically altered the way households function. Homes have shifted from their role as producers to a new role as consumers.
The work of the home has been a paradigm worthy of academic analysis since long before the 1960s shift of women to the labour market. In fact, in the late eighteenth century and nineteenth century we find important intellectual antecedents in Home Economics as a field interested in the work of the home as a necessary social good.
The work of the home is an activity that is largely undervalued by society, despite its fundamental role in the social and economic life of individuals and families. In the case of Spain, immigrant women have an increasingly prominent role in this type of work due in large part to the incorporation of Spanish women into the labour market, as well as a significant increase in the national dependency ratio.
Our work in the home matters. It matters enormously to the well-being of individuals and families. It matters to communities, society, and the economy. And it matters to the environment. Through the work we do in the home, we give our children love, security and values. By raising loving, secure and responsible children, we sustain our communities and society and give our communities and society meaning and value.
All tasks within the home are essential, and this goes beyond the usual tasks of cooking and cleaning, extending itself to the act of caregiving. Regardless of who is providing the services in the home (be it a paid worker of family member) these tasks are essential for the maintenance of a home environment which allows for each of its members to flourish. This paper takes an ecological and interdisciplinary approach to the study of the specific aspects of the work completed within the home.