domestic labor

(noun) The numerous tasks associated with maintaining a household such as childcare, elder-care, or housework.


  1. Bathing children.
  2. Changing diapers (also called nappies).
  3. Cleaning the bathroom.
  4. Preparing meals.
  5. Shopping for groceries.
  6. Taking out the trash.

Audio Pronunciation: (do·mes·tic la·bor)

Download Audio Pronunciation: domestic labor.mp3

Usage Notes:

  • Plural: domestic labors
  • Not to be confused with wage labor, which is labor sold by a worker to an employer.
  • The Sociology of Housework (1974) by Ann Oakley (1944) fueled the sociological discussion of domestic labor, as did The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home (1989) by Arlie Hochschild (1940) and Anne Machung over a decade later.
  • In contrast to domestic labor, household work strategy refers to labor inside and outside the home.
  • Variant form: domestic labour
  • Domestic labor used in a sentence: My mom and dad try to equally split the domestic labor in the house.

Additional Information:

Related Terms:


Works Consulted

Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed. 2011. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Bruce, Steve, and Steven Yearley. 2006. The SAGE Dictionary of Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Jary, David, and Julia Jary. 2000. Collins Dictionary of Sociology. 3rd ed. Glasgow, Scotland: HarperCollins.

Macmillan. (N.d.) Macmillan Dictionary. (

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (

Ravelli, Bruce, and Michelle Webber. 2016. Exploring Sociology: A Canadian Perspective. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pearson.

Stewart, Paul, and Johan Zaaiman, eds. 2015. Sociology: A Concise South African Introduction. Cape Town: Juta.

Thorpe, Christopher, Chris Yuill, Mitchell Hobbs, Sarah Tomley, and Marcus Weeks. 2015. The Sociology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained. London: DK.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (


How to Cite the Definition of Domestic Labor

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “domestic labor.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 16, 2019 (

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

domestic labor. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “domestic labor.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 16, 2019.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“domestic labor.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 16 Jun. 2019. <>.