This essay examines the growing interest in home-based labor in light of the changing structures of conventional work. Neo-homesteading, particularly in its part-time and casual modes, reveals the conflicted middle-class desire to achieve freedom from the wage economy without abandoning the advantages and benefits of modern, high-tech capitalism. Recent narratives about the value of home production affirm the effort to assert greater control over work lives and to recuperate satisfying, sustainable, and less alienated forms of production. At the same time, these narratives expose troubling contradictions in the “postwork” landscape, such as a deeper investment in private and individualized labor, an unstable relationship to land ownership, and a neoliberal retrenchment into a family-based organization of labor. Neo-homesteading, it is argued, makes visible both the radical and the reactionary possibilities that emerge from the effort to reconceive work.

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