The Professionalization of the Home

If our work is not five-star quality, can it really be of value?

We live in a modern society, where the work of the home is increasingly outsourced and professionalized. This is a large part of why we have a hard time as seeing it as valuable when we are doing the work only for the home—and not some other enterprise. Consider Martha Stewart, a woman who has built an entire brand on the work of the home, yet while some view her with disdain, others praise her for her ability and business acumen. She has taken the work of the home and made it an industry, and countless others have followed suit. The professional chef is marveled at, while the average cook in a suburban kitchen is seen as ordinary.

 

Only for the Professionals?

One of my first grocery store purchases as a college student was a frozen dinner. Growing up, my mom made home-cooked meals for us, so a frozen dinner was a rarity, reserved only for babysitters or a random night off for her. But I often found myself wanting to eat frozen dinners. Perhaps I wanted them because I didn’t often have them, but it also could have been the advertising. Those meals just looked so good as the images poured from the television screen. That was the point, and the advertisers knew it.

In her book Just a Housewife: The Rise and Fall of Domesticity in America, Glenna Matthews chronicles the massive shift in at-home work from colonial America until present day. One of the greatest changes in how we work in the home is in part owing to the Industrial Revolution and the continued rise of modern appliances and conveniences that make what used to be backbreaking, all-day work into work that could be done with the touch of a button. Even food purists who refuse to buy anything processed still have the benefit of buying their chicken already slaughtered, plucked, and packaged for them.

We live in a modern society, where the work of the home is increasingly outsourced and professionalized. This is a large part of why we have a hard time as seeing it as valuable when we are doing the work only for the home—and not some other enterprise. Consider Martha Stewart, a woman who has built an entire brand on the work of the home, yet while some view her with disdain, others praise her for her ability and business acumen. She has taken the work of the home and made it an industry, and countless others have followed suit. The professional chef is marveled at, while the average cook in a suburban kitchen is seen as ordinary.

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