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INTRODUCTION

In the second part of this volume we examine the two most important forms of waged domestic labour in contemporary Britain, the nanny and the cleaner, as they occur within dual-career middle-class households, looking specifically at their organisation and social relations. Chapter Six is concerned with the nanny; Chapter Seven with the cleaner. Whilst there are similarities between the two forms of waged domestic labour, some critical differences exist, both in terms of the organisation of the work and their social relations. We consider these differences to reflect the form of labour substitution involved in both cases, as well as the varying ideological constructs which suffuse and shape both forms of waged domestic labour. In more general terms, our work can be read as extending Graham’s critique of the feminist concept of caring (Graham, 1991) By definition, both the forms of waged domestic labour with which we are concerned are home-based, as well as care-related. Both involve wage-labour relations. But both are also characterised by social relations grounded in false kinship and/or close friendship. When looking at forms of care-based work (such as waged domestic labour), we need to avoid conceptualisations based on assumptions which equate care with home-based, unwaged labour shaped by the social relations of kin. Instead, care-based work (and caring) needs to be recognised as contingently related to location, and as a form of work which can exhibit the social relations of both wage labour and kinship (false kinship)—in some cases (as in certain forms of waged domestic labour) in conjunction with one another.