Talk:Domestic worker

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If 'Manservant' is going to redirect here, then this page should explain what a manservant is. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:05, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

Removed a sentence[edit]

It remains to be seen whether this newer category of domestic worker will be constrained to a lower standard of living, and fewer opportunities, than her or his employers.

Considering that domestic workers are paid from the after-tax income of their employers, and their employers are unlikely to divert 100% of their discretionary income on their domestic worker's pay, I think we can easily come to the relevant conclusions, unless the domestic workers work very short hours per customer at high pay per hour. -- The Anome 22:59, Nov 29, 2004 (UTC)

Could someone add Francis Barber to the famous servants list? Historically important guy as servant, friend, and inheritor to Dr Johnson, and one of the earlier black people in Britain to be identified by name. ¬¬¬ R Clyne

Stuff to add[edit]

I've just added some external links to domestic worker advocacy groups and to a paper about domestic workers. Because currently I don't have time to do this myself, could someone go over those external links and perhaps add information from those links to the wikipedia article? Thanks :) Allentchang 01:23, 11 Jun 2005 (UTC)


Even if only one domestic worker is hired, some employers require that domestic worker to wear a "uniform". But it's not called uniform if there is only one worker.

PRC Domestic workers and the word "even"[edit]

With such a vast income disparity in China, the word "even" is appropriate, because of the irony that many poor chinese women work as domestic workers in western countries, sending money back home to the children they've left with relatives in China, while at the same time rich Chinese are importing workers from other countries. SchmuckyTheCat 23:27, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

The vast majority of domestic workers in China are from the Chinese countryside. It is only HK and Taiwan that have foreign domestic workers from poorer SE Asian countries. LDHan 18:14, 2 November 2006 (UTC)
While that may be true, I've heard that there are Fillipina domestic workers in Shenzhen. This is still ironic. Allentchang 13:46, 28 November 2006 (UTC)
Kindly reacquaint yourself with WP:TONE and WP:NPOV. Income disparity means that some people will be quite wealthy and others quite poor: having servants in such conditions is hardly unusual, let alone ironic. — LlywelynII 11:57, 11 August 2013 (UTC)

Point of view[edit]

Cut from intro:

While this type of social arrangement is all but obsolete in developed countries, it can perform a useful social role in less-developed countries in distributing income. Nevertheless such elaborate hierarchies, if based around a class or caste system, can perpetuate divisions and restrict social mobility.

Whose POV is it that domestic service must "perform a useful social role" or that it should not "perpetuate divisions and restrict social mobility"?

Not that I'm of the opposite viewpoint, mind you, it's just that the POV is unsourced. If there is to be critical evaluation of the concept, our readers deserve to know WHO opposes or favors it, and WHY. --Uncle Ed 00:06, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

This is an epitaph inscribed on an 19th century civil servant's tomb in Old Highgate Cemetery, Highgate, London. I cannot remember the name of the civil servant, but it may still be of interest to the readers of this Wikipedia entry on servants, or domestic workers:--

Truly trust
The trusty servant
Truly trusting
In a trusty master.

Unknown 11:57, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

Long Working Hours[edit]

I found this phrase in the introduction most intriguing: Maids often are expected to work at least fifteen hours per day. I think that it would be better to contextualise where this happen. Even in Brazil, which is a third world country with lots of inegalities, domestic workers are protected by laws and can't work more than 40 hours a week., and have right to a paid day-off. SaintCahier 08:57, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

changing terminology[edit]

In one of his movies, Steve Martin's character becomes livid whenever he hears the words "cleaning woman." This is an example of how many such phrases ("the maid," "the help," "scrubwoman") have become vaguely comical, as well as outdated and possibly offensive. ProfessorAndro (talk) 14:44, 17 October 2009 (UTC)

One more example, a British middle class term for women domestic cleaners, is “ladies who do”, which in Britain has now become outdated and nowadays is little used, as it is probably slightly derogatory of cleaners in general, and is no longer “PC”, as they say.

Unknown 12:05 28 March 2014 (UTC)

Dispatches: Britain's Secret Slaves[edit]

Some notes from a programme I just watched that people may wish to introduce to the article.

  • 15,000 domestic workers brought into the UK each year.
  • Hundreds run away from their employers each year.
  • Cases of pay:
    • Case: woman paid average of 10p per hour.
    • Case: One woman paid £3 for an 8 hour day.
    • Case: One woman paid £4 a day.
    • Because the workers had nothing in writing their pay claims could not be proved by the Dispatches team.
  • Cases of abuse:
    • Boy ("Josh") beaten regularly between ages of 11 to 17.
    • Woman called variously "stinking", "dog" and "donkey".
  • Elizabeth Bondock (sp?) has attempted to retrieve hundreds of passports of migrant domestic workers; the passports are illegally kept by employers.
  • Kalayaan (charity that helps immigrant domestic workers) says that two-thirds of workers report pschological abuse; eg persistent abusive criticism.
  • is the website of a charity that helps such workers.
  • DCS Richard Martin is the head of the police department investigating cases of migrant domestic workers.
    • He has heard cases of the workers being raped.
  • Case: a diplomat used his immunity to avoid prosecution and confronted an employee of the Kalayaam charity over his rights regarding his ex-employee.
  • Citation info for all of the above:
    • Programme title: Dispatches: Britain's Secret Slaves
    • Broadcaster: Channel 4
    • Date/time of transmission: 30 August 2010, 19:30

Hope it's of use to somebody. --bodnotbod (talk) 19:37, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

Major sections of article hidden by mal-formed square brackets[edit]

I removed the following at the top of Domestic work and international migration: [ [ File:Mu Mansion servant's room.JPG|thumb|Servant's room in the Mu Mansion located in the Old Town of Lijiang, Yunnan

This was added in (I think) the 3 Dec edit, and it is malformed (no closing ] ]). It deleted several sections. I am unsure how (or if) to restore the image in a style-conforming way. Please consider this a first step merely to restore hidden content. Please re-edit! (Spaces added to [ [ and ] ] to defeat Wiki-ization.) Laguna CA (talk) 07:22, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

Revision and Expansion Ideas[edit]

I would like to make some revisions to the Domestic Worker page. I would like to contribute to this page by including information that looks at domestic workers through a sociological lens. I also intend to focus specifically on domestic work in terms of the effects it has on the lives of women. There are several different directions I can see that I can potentially take this contribution and I would greatly appreciate some help in deciding the best direction to go with it. One of the areas I am interested in editing is the section that is currently titled Current Situation Around the World. I would like to expand and possibly reorganized this section to include more regions and/or countries around the world and would like to include specific legislation in these countries that has affected the lives of domestic workers in those countries. In order to maintain neutrality throughout the article I would like to include both positive and negative social effects of domestic work. For example I would like to include information on how domestic work can potentially serve as a dead-end sector that limits social mobility for women. I would also like to include that domestic work can serve as an important sector for women to have access to and have the power seek economic independence through employment. Another section of the article that I am interested on expanding is the section currently titled Domestic Work and International Migration. I am interested in expanding this section to include more information on migrant domestic workers and would like to include some trends on domestic workers migrating to and from certain countries seeking employment and what effects that has on the sending and receiving countries. I have found several readings that address specific migration trends such as Rhacel Salazar’s article on Filipina migrant domestic workers and Shirlena Wong’s article on migrant domestic workers in Singapore. I would love some advice on how to use my ideas in the best way possible to improve the quality of this page. Thanks! Victoria.delgado (talk) 09:49, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Comments and Suggestions[edit]

This article accomplishes several goals such as tone neutrality, depth, and navigation ease. However, a few easy adjustments would greatly improve this article. The tone is excellent. It is clearly neutral and treats the subject objectively. The introductory paragraph sets a proper scope which is addressed in the article, sets a proper tone, and establishes a logical progression to the paper. The lack of citations and a picture do take away from its impact, however, because it doesn't seem fully trustworthy and it feels empty. Citations and a relevant photo would improve this section. The most pressing issue with the article is its organization. The sections seem a bit disjointed. Re-organization would improve readability and the logical progression of the issue. I propose that the section on "Domestic Worker Jobs" be moved to immediately after the section on the contemporary situation of domestic workers because it provides a scope of what is meant by domestic work in today's terms without breaking the flow of the introductory paragraphs. It also follows logically after a cursive look at the history of domestic workers. Accommodations should be moved to immediately follow the section on jobs because it describes the context and situation of contemporary workers. The article should not progress to new ideas, such as the trends in domestic work or its social effects, or subsections of domestic workers, such as children, until a broad overview is provided to contextualize and establish a frame of reference for domestic workers. Information on domestic children workers should then follow because it is about a subsection of domestic workers today which is the same topic that is being addressed by the earlier topics. Trends should follow this because, once children are discussed, the principal information about domestic workers has been provided.

The second major issue with this article is the lack of citations and the inconsistency of citations. Some sections are very well cited so the claims are easy to track. Other sections are devoid of any citations despite claims or assertions of history or the state of being of these workers. Specifically, citations should be added to the following sections: the introduction, "History," "Current situation around the world," "Domestic work and international migration," and "Accommodation." Overall, the article is very good. The sections on child labor, domestic workers and international migration, and the current situation for domestic workers are great. The information is interesting and delves into several areas. Citations are good and a global perspective is given. The comparison provides depth. The child labor section is particularly good due to the photo and strategic use of data. If possible, please expand. Domestic work and international migration is also fantastic because it mixes data with explanations of the issues. Good citations. The discussion of gender norms and inequality in the domestic work section is terrific because it touches on a deeper sociological issue than is presented previously in the paper. Provides depth and pushes the reader to think and to consider the information through a new lens. Data is good but more would be better. The history section needs quite a bit of work, however, because it is too short, only focuses on England, provides few bits of data, and seems to establish an arbitrary time frame. Integrate more data about domestic workers such as their population size, their regions of origin, age, sex, and legal rights, throughout the article but certainly as early as possible.

The pictures are great. Keep them. Great work! Needs more citations and the sources section needs to be cleaned up so it is easier to navigate. Overall, good article. DanSCohen (talkcontribs)

DanSCohen provided a lot of really good overview, so I tried to focus more on specifics in my feedback.
"Introduction:" The introduction heading to the article starts with an overview of domestic workers, but then spends a considerable amount of time on the labor issues regarding domestic work. I feel like that section was a little too long for the introduction, but also seemed more suited to an article specifically on the labor issues around domestic work instead of an overview article. Perhaps shortening it to just a few sentences would be helpful. You also discuss a very helpful ILO document and while you do cite it as ILO, I think a citation to where the quote appears would be helpful as well.
"History:" Seems incredibly short - I don't know much about the topic but I assume domestic work has been going on for centuries before 1823. I think expanding this section would be really helpful for us to situate all the other more specific case studies and types of domestic work.
"Current situations around the world:" Is organized kind of strangle. You talk about certain countries and their case studies instead of providing a general overview of domestic service, so perhaps the section could be renamed to something like "case studies around the world" or something similar. I definitely expected more of an overview instead of specific focus on each country. But I also think you could easily provide more of an overview by focusing on the different types of domestic service, such as "child domestic service" which you have a whole section on.
"Accomodation:" This is kind of a strange section to have. I don't see this as core to domestic service, except if you want to have a certain section on live-in domestic work. But that's a subcategory of domestic work in general and would only come if you decide to dedicate a subsection to each type of domestic work.
I agree with DanSCohen that the organization of the article seems very strange. Sections that I would recommend being added/expanded (not totally re-written, but you could incorporate much of the information you already have would be something like: history of domestic work, types of domestic work, case studies of domestic work. Lillyyu (talk) 19:42, 6 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks so much for your comments and suggestions! I was especially relieved to hear that the page kept a consistent level of neutrality throughout which was something I struggled with when editing the article. You suggestions about the reorganization of the article were great. I also felt that the page didn’t flow as smoothly as I had hoped for and I’m glad you had some concrete suggestions on how to fix that issue. I especially agreed with your suggestion to organize the page so that more broad holistic sections came first and ones that delved deeper into more specific issues. I failed to mention to my reviewers that there were some sections of the page that I specifically worked on and a couple of sections that I completely left alone. The History section and Accommodation sections specifically I did not do much work with because I wanted to focus on adding and editing sections that dealt with a more sociological approach to the subject. However, I’m glad that you brought these sections up because now I see that there is an imbalance in quality between the different sections I have something to work toward for my final contribution. I also appreciated the comments about improving citations I’ll definitely work on that. Thanks for your thorough review it really helped a lot. Victoria.delgado (talk) 17:19, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
Hey Lily,
Thanks a ton for your suggestions and comments! As I mentioned to Danny some of the sections that you guys suggested improvement were actually sections that I almost completely left alone and I think that’s definitely to blame for the awkward organization and discrepancies between the quality of sections. I’m glad ya’ll pointed that out however because I definitely want to work on improving some of those sections for the final contribution. I agree with you that the Acommodations sections seems a little bit out of place. That was one of the sections that was already in the page and I wasn’t sure if I should leave it alone or remove the information completely (which I felt bad about doing). I appreciated your suggestion to expand the History section, that’s something I’ll definitely work on. I also particularly liked your suggestion to include some case studies relating to the topic. That is definitely something I’ll look into for the final contribution. Thanks again for your suggestions they helped a lot! Victoria.delgado (talk) 17:19, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

removing POV tag with no active discussion per Template:POV[edit]

I've removed an old neutrality tag from this page that appears to have no active discussion per the instructions at Template:POV:

This template is not meant to be a permanent resident on any article. Remove this template whenever:
  1. There is consensus on the talkpage or the NPOV Noticeboard that the issue has been resolved
  2. It is not clear what the neutrality issue is, and no satisfactory explanation has been given
  3. In the absence of any discussion, or if the discussion has become dormant.

Since there's no evidence of ongoing discussion, I'm removing the tag for now. If discussion is continuing and I've failed to see it, however, please feel free to restore the template and continue to address the issues. Thanks to everybody working on this one! -- Khazar2 (talk) 22:33, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

Collapse in quality?[edit]

I'm not sure what happened (maybe the college project mentioned above?) but, if the self-congratulatory tone above about what a good article we have was ever justified, it certainly isn't now. We've got multiple long, uncolumned & uncurated lists (incl. a further reading list with unexplained and seemingly random entries); poor > nonexistent formatting; overlapping and duplicative sections placed at random down the page; and a completely unsourced and minimalist "history" section barely even covering Britain. We have such helpful sentences as "In India, domestic workers are known as maidservants, manservants, drivers and cooks." It's quite possible that the solution here is to revert if we've got a good page in storage, but what we've got is certainly nothing to be congratulatory about.

What I came here looking for (and found nothing relevant about at all) was what explained the rise and collapse of domestic workers in the West. I can guess the first part (ag. advances & limitation of women's ability to perform industrial work > lots of available help) but we should source and quantify it across multiple areas and identify how skewed the gender ratio was. The second part remains a mystery: it seems to have shifted following WWI and then collapsed following WWII, but we've got no accounts here on why, how quickly, or to what extent. This source at least covers Chicago, but we need much more given how important this was for all of Western culture. (Treatment of how the pattern differed in the Middle East, East Asia, and Africa during their industrialization & transit back into service economies would obviously be great as well.)

(As a side point, manservant still redirects here and still remains unexplained. Help the OP above out.) — LlywelynII 12:48, 11 August 2013 (UTC)

This book is focused on servants in literature but still seems to have good points (e.g.) about the comparison between using labor-saving devices for women on their own versus servants. — LlywelynII 17:12, 11 August 2013 (UTC)

Inappropriate photo?[edit]

The photo of a woman ostensibly in Columbia identifies her as a "domestic worker," but she appears to be working in some sort of office or other institutional setting, rather than a home. Not sure that qualifies as a domestic worker. Eperotao (talk) 16:08, 6 July 2014 (UTC)

Removed a few positions[edit]

It is important to remember that not everyone who worked (or currently works) for the very wealthy in a household was considered a domestic servant. Secretaries, librarians, tutors, private chaplains etc. would never have been ranked with the domestic staff. They were (and are) considered employees and had accommodations separate from the servants. -Ad Orientem (talk) 12:54, 25 September 2014 (UTC)

Yes, this is one of the problems with this article. Domestic work is still done by "domestic workers", many of whom are working for themselves at home. The range of domestic work is very great and some people were/are exploited in doing it both now and in the past; others do this work (unpaid) because it simply has to be done in addition to their paid employment; others are employed to do it under proper working conditions as a proper job. The question of how much choice anyone has/had in doing this work is fraught with all these issues. We have not yet sorted out how all this should be presented in the article. It is still intellectually incoherent as well as badly organised. Some current section headings reflect this. For example, as you point out, "accommodation" is not very sensible, aside from the fact that many people such as tutors were never regarded as "domestics" but were rather employees with poor working conditions much like musicians and travelling entertainers. Accommodation is a factor independent of many relevant factors. For example, a worker may have had/still have good or bad accommodation regardless of whether they were/are well employed or not. Further, any sociological focus on the 21st century is likely to be jargon-ridden and be very "recentist". Historically, the relationship of the worker to the employer was probably more stable than now (thinking of permanent classes of domestic workers here). The relationship to systematic abuse (such as slavery) could be spelled out but is different now than it was when slavery was legal. In short, lots more work needed, starting with a rethinking of the scope and focus. (talk) 06:39, 26 September 2014 (UTC)