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    Cleaning up: gender, race and dirty work at home

    Cox, Rosie (2016) Cleaning up: gender, race and dirty work at home. In: Lewe, C. and Oxen, N. and Othold, T. (eds.) Müll, Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf das Übrig-Geliebene. Bielefeld, Germany: Transcript, pp. 97-116. ISBN 9783837633276.

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    Abstract

    This chapter explores the importance of dirt in the home for structuring social relations of inequality. It examines the fundamental relationship between modern notions of public and private and practices of waste removal. It then explores how this relates to social inequalities, particularly racial/ethnic inequalities, through the examples of Americanization programmes in the early Twentieth century and soap advertisements in the late nineteenth century. In both these examples, cleanliness was associated with whiteness and ‘right’ ways to live. The chapter then examines the division of labour inside the home to discuss how cleaning is organised along gender, class and ethnic lines. It looks at the experiences of women of colour employed as paid domestic workers in private homes and how notions of dirt and pollution structure their employment conditions. It concludes with an examination of the generative possibilities of dirt, as a substance and an idea which can disturb existing ways of thinking and lead us to discover more ethical social relations.

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