Social Change and Innovation in the Labour Market: Evidence from the Census SARs on Occupational Segregation and Labour Mobility, Part-Time Work and Student Jobs, Homework and Self-Employment

By Catherine Hakim | Go to book overview

7
Homework and Travel to Work Patterns

When the results of the 1981 National Survey of Homeworking were published ( Hakim, 1984, 1985, 1987b, 1988a), they aroused controversy because they revealed a picture of homeworking very different from the one being offered at the time by local and national pressure groups ( Rubery, 1989: 52; Phizacklea and Wolkowitz, 1995: 31-2). There was feminist and left-wing political resistance to the conclusions that many homeworkers were men; that most women homeworkers did not have young children at home; that white-collar jobs greatly outnumbered low-paid manufacturing homework jobs; that rates of pay and earnings varied a great deal rather than homework being universally poorly paid work; that the majority of homeworkers seemed to be self-employed and often worked for a variety of employers rather than being clear-cut cases of dependent labour working for a single employer on a continuous basis; that most homeworkers were satisfied with their jobs; and that homeworkers had negative views of trade unions, seeing them as organizations that served the interests of well-paid male workers, with little or no interest in the problems of low-paid female workers, especially if they worked part-time and on an intermittent basis at home. All these results were questioned, doubted, and rejected, by trade unions, pressure groups, and academics sympathetic to them, on the basis of local studies which necessarily had small and unrepresentative samples and concluded that homeworkers were women, forced to work at home by childcare responsibilities and hence exploited by unscrupulous employers ( Allen and Wolkowitz, 1987; Huws, 1994; Phizacklea and Wolkowitz, 1995). However, all studies of homeworking undertaken since the 1981 National Homeworking Survey have in fact confirmed the results of that first nationally representative survey of homeworkers ( Huws, 1994; Granger, Stanworth, and Stanworth, 1995; Phizacklea and Wolkowitz, 1995; Felstead, 1996; Felstead, Jewson, and Goodwin, 1996; Felstead and Jewson, 1997; Stanworth and Stanworth, 1995, 1997), even those explicitly designed to overturn those findings ( Phizacklea and Wolkowitz, 1995; Felstead, 1996). Furthermore, cross-national comparative studies and research in other countries have generally produced broadly similar pictures of manufacturing and white-collar homework towards the end of the twentieth century ( Hartmann, Kraut, and Tilly, 1986: 144-7; Morokvasicet al., 1986; Varesi and Villa, 1986; Applebaum, 1987; Boris and Daniels, 1989; Rodgers and Rodgers,

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