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Making the best of a bad job: Homeworking in secretarial and clerical occupations

Pugh, H.S. (1990). Making the best of a bad job: Homeworking in secretarial and clerical occupations. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)

Abstract

The last two decades have produced much research about women's employment, yet one area which has received relatively little attention is that of homeworking. This thesis begins by considering theories of women's employment and different definitions of homeworking. It continues by using data from the OPCS Longitudinal Study (LS) to examine homeworking and some of the misconceptions surrounding it. A minimal estimate of homeworking in England and Wales is presented together with an examination of homeworking in the two largest occupation groups - clerical and clothing. There is also an analysis of socio-economic and demographic information.

This analysis provides the basis for two surveys of secretarial and clerical homeworkers (the single largest group of homeworkers in the LS) . Firstly, employers of homeworkers were interviewed to investigate their policies towards homeworkers, their patterns of recruitment and the conditions of work they provided for them. The advantages to employers of using homeworkers to cope with a flexible workload are described as well as the disadvantages to homeworkers. Although the homeworkers' conditions of work and pay appear to be better than those of homeworkers in other occupations, the homeworkers themselves still have little control over their employment situation.

Secondly, interviews with homeworkers were carried out to examine how homeworking fits into women's work histories, in addition to focussing on their work conditions. The question of whether women see homeworking as desirable or as the only solution available to them is also considered. The evidence suggests that these homeworkers' conditions of employment are as unsatisfactory as those of many other homeworkers, and that they have had to prioritise their domestic responsibilities over any career plans they might have had. Having become mothers the majority of women found working in their homes was the best option available to them.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
Departments: City, University of London (-2022) > School of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
School of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
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