The Occupation of Housewife

  • Barbara R. Bergmann


To be a housewife is to be a member of a very peculiar occupation—an occupation like no other. The nature of the duties to be performed, the method of payment, the form of supervision, the tenure system, the “market” in which the “workers” find “jobs,” and the physical hazards are all very different from the way things are in other occupations. The differences are so great that one tends not to think of a housewife as belonging to an occupation in the usual sense. It is commonly said that a housewife “doesn’t work” and that she “is unpaid.” The truth is, of course, that a housewife does work and does get recompense. Like other workers, she can quit or be fired. One dictionary defines an occupation as “an activity that serves as one’s regular source of livelihood.” Being a housewife is an activity that gets one food, clothing, and a place to live, and that certainly meets the dictionary’s definition of having an occupation.


Gross Domestic Product Police Officer Household Labor Social Security Benefit Marriage Penalty 
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Copyright information

© Barbara R. Bergmann 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara R. Bergmann

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