• Alena Heitlinger


The time taken up by private housework in Czechoslovakia is almost as high as in the Soviet Union. It has been estimated that housework in individual Czechoslovak families takes up to 5 million hours a year, which is roughly the same amount of time as is spent on paid labour by the whole population.1 Why has housework remained organised on a private basis, despite an ideology advocating its socialisation? In accordance with the ‘new socialist style of living’, rationalisation of domestic work within the family was initially considered as anti-socialist (Háková and Svarovská, 1961), even counter-revolutionary (Landová-Štychová, 1961).2 The Czechoslovak ideologues assumed that ‘gradually all domestic activity would be shifted from the family to society, which would ensure the development of the appropriate type of service’ (Brablcová, 1967). The opponents of individual housework particularly emphasised its negative consequences for a woman’s personality.

The woman, excluded from other activities and isolated in the home, makes out of her livelihood a complicated system of fetishes … The house becomes for her the centre of the world, the only proof of her individuality, which she cannot otherwise realise (Fukalová, 1967: 23).


Domestic Work Sexual Division Socialism Note Public Catering Household Service 
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© Alena Heitlinger 1979

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  • Alena Heitlinger

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