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Self-service innovations have subsidized capitalism while increasing women's unpaid work

Women's Paid and Unpaid Labor

The Work Transfer in Health Care and Retailing

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Nona Y. Glazer

"Glazer's style is most engaging.... Along with its convincing argument and presentation of historical data, one of the strengths of this work is its sensitivity to race and class."
Contemporary Sociology

Providing an original look at twentieth-century service occupations, Nona Y. Glazer offers an innovative interpretation of how managers reduce labor costs by shifting labor for paid women workers to women as family members. She critically examines the past and present practices of retailing and health service occupations as a way to better understand the deskilling, speed-ups, and job consolidation of nurses, salesclerks, and cashiers.

Glazer calls the shifting of tasks from paid to unpaid labor the "work transfer," one of the many mechanisms that managers used to change the labor process in service jobs. She maintains that these shifts in labor costs increase profit margins in a capitalistic economy that demands such increases. Drawing on social history, economics, interviews with health service workers, union newsletter accounts, and advertisements in mass market magazines and retail trade journals, this book affords new insights into how the hidden work of women is structured by changes in paid labor.

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Reviews

"Glazer lays out theoretical perspectives that make her empirical observations more widely useful and significant. She offers a genuinely original way of looking at twentieth-century service occupations—a highly significant and largely untapped subject."
Barbara Melosh, George Mason University

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Contents

List of Tables
Acknowledgments
Introduction

Part I: Changes in Women's Lives
1. From Paid to Unpaid Work
2. The Work Transfer in the Service Economy
3. Women's Work: Linking Separate Spheres

Part II: The Retail Trade Industry
4. The Restructuring of Retailing
5. From Salesclerk to Cashier
6. The Clerkless Customer: Doing Away with "Wasteful" Labor

Part III: The Health Services Industry
7. Capital and Labor: Restructuring Health Services
8. Changing Hospital Work
9. Changing Home Care
10. The Home as Workshop: Amateur Nursing—Medical Caregivers
11. Conclusions

Appendix
Notes
References
Index

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About the Author(s)

Nona Y. Glazer is Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies at Portland State University and the editor of Woman in a Man-Made World and New Family/Old Family.

Subject Categories

Women's Studies
Labor Studies and Work


In the series

Women in the Political Economy, edited by Ronnie J. Steinberg.

No longer active.

Women in the Political Economy, edited by Ronnie J. Steinberg, includes books on women and issues of work, family, social movements, politics, feminism, and empowerment. It emphasizes women's roles in society and the social construction of gender and also explores current policy issues like comparable worth, international development, job training, and parental leave.

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