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Industrial Homework, Economic Restructuring and the Meaning of Work

Belinda Leach
Labour / Le Travail
Vol. 41 (Spring, 1998), pp. 97-115
DOI: 10.2307/25144228
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25144228
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Industrial Homework, Economic Restructuring and the Meaning of Work
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Abstract

The recent "renaissance" of industrial homework is attributed to the search for flexible labour in processes of economic restructuring. This paper argues that common-sense ideas about the meaning of work in western capitalist society underpin the use of industrial homework as a flexible strategy for economic efficiency in the context of corporate and state restructuring of the economy. Drawing on an ethnographic study of homework in Southern Ontario, the paper discusses some of the ways in which the meaning of work is ambiguous, situationally specific and continuously redefined in the homework context. It is argued that this is possible because of the awkward location of the homework labour process, occupying as it does space and time usually associated with home and family. /// La "renaissance" récente du travail industriel à domicile est attribuée à la recherche de travail flexible dans le processus de restructuration économique. Cette étude soutient que, dans le contexte de la restructuration corporative et étatique de l'économie dans les sociétés capitalistes occidentales, la signification communément attribuée au concept de travail est à la base de l'utilisation du travail industriel à domicile comme stratégie flexible d'efficacité économique. S'appuyant sur une étude ethnographique du travail à domicile dans le sud de l'Ontario, cet article examine les significations ambiguës attribuées au concept de travail. Cellesci sont situées de façon spécifiques, et continuellement redéfinies, dans le contexte du travail à domicile. Cette ambiguité est possible en raison de la situation particulière du travail à domicile qui est associé de façon unique à l'univers domestique et familial.

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