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.
Neo-homesteading: Domestic Production and the Limits of the Postwage Imagination
Alison Shonkwiler is professor at Rhode Island College. She writes on contemporary American literature and culture and is author of The Financial Imaginary: Economic Mystification and the Limits of Realist Fiction (2017) and coeditor of Reading Capitalist Realism (2014).
Alison Shonkwiler; Neo-homesteading: Domestic Production and the Limits of the Postwage Imagination. Public Culture 1 September 2020; 32 (3 (92)): 465–490. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-8358674
Download citation file: