‘Doing for Oneself’
The Servantless Home
This chapter explores the advice literature and periodical press fascination with the changing nature of the twentieth-century home. It describes the ‘labour-saving movement’, and the associated development of gas and electricity within the home. The persistence of domestic service within the changing context is highlighted, and many ‘labour-saving’ devices were understood as perpetuating domestic service, rather than making it redundant. The ‘servantless’ home was thus never very firmly established, and most middle-class households continued to expect domestic assistance. The chapter outlines attempts made to employ new categories of domestic workers (nannies, lady helps, mother's helps, au pairs) to avoid the opprobrium of being a ‘servant’. The servant-keeping practices of the late twentieth century are placed into a broader time span, and ‘doing for oneself’ is seen as a brief experiment, rather than a necessary feature of ‘modern’ living.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.