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Between Family and Market: The Legal Regulation of Household Care Work in Globalizing Economies: Housewivery, Domestic Work, and Sex Work


Women’s disproportional familial care responsibilities are widely understood to pose a challenge to women’s equality. In post-industrial economies, where the majority of women have entered the workforce, care responsibilities still limit women’s opportunities. A common ‘care solution’ is the redistribution of care work between women of different classes, ethnicities, and nationalities in the form of paid care services. Although this is hardly a new phenomenon, post-industrial globalizing economies give it new forms that evoke new regulatory challenges. My research is an inquiry into the relationship between family and market, focusing on four paradigmatic cases of women’s care work. The first is the prototype of care work: housewife’s work in the home. The other three are the main market reconfigurations of the prototype: paid domestic work, sex work, and mail ordered brides. Studying of the legal regulation of these four cases, I investigate the nature of the distribution of care along gender and class lines. Law operates in these ‘markets of care’ through a combination of regulatory tools. My project offers a cross-section of the legal system, elucidating the combined operation of different areas of law – family, welfare, employment, immigration, and criminal law– and their influence on markets for paid domestic/sex work. These areas of law are studied comparatively in three legal systems: U.S.A United Kingdom, and Israel. All three are post-industrial, globalizing economies, but there are acute differences in the way they handle their welfare state, immigration policy, and legal regimes of prostitution. Through the study of this matrix of legal regulation, the research aims to uncover the institutional settlement of care responsibilities in liberal welfare states, one which holds the potential for significant redistribution of social and political power among members of households and classes alike.

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Ramat Aviv
69978 Tel Aviv

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Lea Pais (Ms.)
EU contribution
€ 100 000