Domestic equipment does not increase domestic work: a response to Bittman, Rice and Wajcman
Bittman, Rice and Wajcman (hereafter BR&W) reopen the old controversy over the ‘domestic labour paradox’. They deploy evidence which directly connects household ownership of domestic equipment to household members’ time allocations, suggesting paradoxically that possession of household equipment in effect adds to domestic labour rather than reducing it. There is a methodological trap, confusing evidence of cross-sectional differences between people for historical change in people’s behaviour. BR&W tell us that they are aware of the trap (in the guise of ‘unmeasured heterogeneity’). This, unfortunately, does not stop them falling into it. They are also guilty of a minor, though revealing, error of scholarship: they claim that the 1997 Australian time diary survey provides a ‘unique opportunity’ by collecting data on equipment in diarist’s households. In fact, a brief scan of the collected documentation on around 300 time-use studies worldwide, downloadable from reveals that many post-1980 diary studies do include this information. That it is infrequently used, reflects complexities of analysis and interpretation which, as we shall see, BR&W apparently prefer to ignore.
British Journal of Sociology
Volume and page numbers
55 (3):425-431 , 425 -431
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