III International Conference: Sustainable Living, Professional Approaches to Housework

As an international and interdisciplinary event, the 2011 Conference "Sustainable Living: Professional Approaches to Housework", was held to deepen our understanding of how developing and improving professional approaches to housework can enhance the wellbeing of present and future generations.

About the Conference

As an international and interdisciplinary event the 2011 Excellence in the Home conference, Sustainable Living: Professional Approaches to Housework, aims to deepen our knowledge about how developing and improving professional approaches to housework can enhance the wellbeing of present and future generations.

A sustainable society needs well-rounded people whose fundamental development depends to a great extent on how work of their home is done competently and with awareness of sustainable practices. This work might be thought of as routine, but it is a core occupation central to a sustainable human development.

Furthermore, people’s behavior at home, and particularly the way they do housework, has a continuous but underestimated, impact on society physically (e.g., energy consumption and waste production) as well as culturally and educationally (e.g., new generations learning and adopting sustainable practices).

In light of this, HRF proposes that the individual and familial sphere of work at home is the necessary first step toward enacting larger social change. The conference, then, will discuss how promoting expertise and excellence in training in all the occupations related to work in the home can improve the human environment and quality of life for present and future generations.

March 17-18, 2011 | The Grocers Hall, London EC2R 8AD

Conference Programme

Conference Agenda 


Plenary Sessions

Prof. Sergio Belardinelli | Università di Bologna

The influence of the home on social dynamics

How is the home, and specifically the work of the home, a crucial factor in the way society works and develops? There is a structure of interdependency found in the home and manifested through housework that is often reflected in society. As a care-giving service, the work of the home strengthens family bonds and helps individuals lead healthy, balanced lives. Careful analysis of the professional and occupational aspects of the work of the home, including its psychological and educational effects, is necessary. The home also contributes to society as a school for life, a source of real education and a place where new generations learn and adopt sustainable practices.

Aggie MacKenzie | Television Presenter and Journalist

Healthy environment at home

Both experience and science strongly suggest that clean and efficiently run homes are fundamental for well-being and improved quality of life. Good practice in cleaning and food preparation is crucial to health and safety. It is important to know which products are best suited for each domestic task to manage the home efficiently. However, what if the skills required do not come to a personal naturally? Aggie MacKenzie will describe how she came to possess these skills in order to elucidate on the benefits of training in housework and how big the impact of these ‘new’ homes is on those who live in them.

Prof. Peggie Smith | Former Editor-in-chief of the Harvard Women’s Law Journal

Housework and legal frameworks

At present there is a separation between the legal definition of work and the domestic sphere. This separation often leads to a lack of appreciation for this valuable work and infringes on the rights of those who devote themselves to this work. A holistic understanding of how housework affects the wellbeing of a country could lead to sounder family and labour policies. What possible improvements can be made to family-friendly policies, including parental leave and professional recognition of the work of the home? Consideration will also be given to possibilities within the private sector such as respite care and flexible working arrangements.

Prof. Mauri Ahlberg | University of Helsinki

Human Ecology: Home, work and society

With the current concern for sustainable practices across all levels of society, an in-depth study of what sustainability means in practice and in our everyday lives is both relevant and highly necessary. Our everyday life takes place and shape in the home so it follows that a prescription of how to attain sustainability on both social and environmental levels must take the microcosm of the home into account. Attention to the dilemmas of the micro-environment that each individual and each family face and deal with in the home on a daily basis is an important first step towards enacting larger social change. How can a greater expertise in housework enhance the wellbeing of present and future generations?


Panel Discussions

Panel 1: The role businesses play in sustainable domestic development

When it comes to sustainable development, businesses have a large part to play towards achieving goals. People are in constant contact with businesses as employees, customers and community members. In this panel, business executives, researchers and policy makers will share best practices in areas related to sustainability. The key issues that surround this topic, such as corporate social responsibility practices will be discussed and evaluated. Other key issues include accessible living for people of all abilities and the environmental impact of any or all of these new possibilities. Sustainable community development links into corporate social responsibility initiatives and its relational dimensions.

Chairman: Marta Elvira    Panelists: Esther Martinez Cuesta, David Stover, Helen Kersley, Marie-Claude Hemmings

Panel 2: Management-technical, interpersonal and personal competences
of housework

This panel will discuss the possibilities and challenges of categorising homemaking as a profession. Does housework have the characteristics commonly attributed to professions? Can it be argued that homemaking requires knowledge and practical skills with the corresponding recognised qualifications; ethical commitment to the interests of clients/customers; organisation – homemakers as a community of practiioners with norms, sanctions and barriers to entry; social recognition: prestige/status, appropriate salaries. Is the alternative to classify houseworkers as craft workers? Housework is much more than a set of technical tasks, it is a values system in which science, art, psychology, culture, skills and a capacity for management all play a part. Furthermore, interaction in the home is the basis of an individual’s socialisation.

Chairman: Julia Prats        Panelists: Michael-Burkhard Piorkowsky, Charlie Browne, Ada Fung, Dr. David Prendergast


Call for Papers & Workshops

Download Call for Papers