chapter  6
33 Pages

Domestic workers and technology

WithSuman Gupta

The bearing of technological development on the domestic worker–employer relationship is examined here at two levels. First, it is considered in terms of the technology that is used in employers’ homes. Appliances which replace or reduce the labour of domestic work – such as washing machines, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers – could be expected to have a direct effect on domestic workers. Second, technology that is not directly relevant to domestic work but may mediate the worker–employer relationship is considered. Communication technologies feature here, such as mobile devices that restructure communications within households; so do digital resources which help formalise domestic employment, such as online platforms of placement agencies. Though such technology seems to promise professionalisation and betterment of domestic workers’ conditions of work, it appears to accentuate performances of hierarchy.