Last year, the US sociologist Arlie Hochschild visited Australia for the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. In Melbourne she presented a talk about the continuing trend in the United States and Australia for families to outsource so much of life. Housework and homemaking as such have only been the exclusive realm of the middle-class and stay-at-home woman for a short while really. For most of history, those who could afford it had servants. The modern form of servitude is called outsourcing; it is such a managerial term for it. It may not look like the upstairs/downstairs life of Downton Abbey, and the social relationships seem to be very different, but nonetheless we now have a class of people whose only way of making a living is to sell their housework and other familial skills to those who do not have the time, or the will, to use or develop their own but who have the money to buy them.
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