Domestic trials: power and autonomy in domestic service in Zambia


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17 Scopus citations


Scholarship on paid domestic service has attributed the troublesome interaction between servants and employers to the peculiar interpersonal relationship characterized by domination and subservience that makes this labor process different from others. Viewing the trials and tribulations servants and employers in postcolonial Zambia experience in their interaction as social practices with which they contest a power relationship of autonomy and dependence, this article focuses on the class conflict underlying their relationship. Giddens' notion of structuration is used to explain how verbal and interactional contests help to reproduce relations of inequality. Emphasizing the interactive nature of power relationships, this analysis gives agency to servants, who, although they are the subordinate actors, are fully involved in maintaining and contesting the domestic service institution. [southern Africa, domestic service, labor process, inequality, power, class, gender] 1990 American Anthropological Association

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-375
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Ethnologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology


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