The Introduction contextualizes the study in various strands of literature relating to the informal sector, work, and domesticity. It traverses the literature on women and work with a special focus on gender–class dimensions. It also outlines the importance of the space of the mistress and maid for an understanding of the relationship between gender and class. It looks at agency and representation to locate the different ways in which the ‘domestic servant’ has been represented in both in fiction and the academia. It discusses the history and emergence of paid domestic work in Europe as well as India. It looks at contemporary debates around care work and whether and how part-time paid domestic work can be understood in that context. It also situates paid domestic work in informal sector literature, indicating estimations of size and introducing public policy efforts.
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