Family Strategies, Work, and Welfare Policies toward Waged Domestic Labor in Twentieth-Century Greece


This article investigates paid domestic work in twentieth-century Greece by focusing on family relations and on domestic workers' experiences of and emotions toward their labor. From the late nineteenth century, when the female domestic worker emerged as the typical yet concealed migrant in the city, until the end of the first half of the twentieth century, domestic work was an integral part of the country's economic, social, and cultural systems. While focusing on welfare policies, the article investigates a paradox in the public discourse during the first half of the twentieth century: the absence of legislative provisions concerning juvenile and adult domestic labor and the use by reformers of the figure of the child servant as a vehicle for campaigning for the abolition of child labor. This historical inquiry into domestic work concludes that in periods of crisis, domestic workers are the first to experience the effects of an increase in social inequality.