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Sensing the (in)visible: domestic cleaning and cleaners on Mumsnet Talk

Orgad, Shani and Higgins, Kathryn (2021) Sensing the (in)visible: domestic cleaning and cleaners on Mumsnet Talk. Feminist Media Studies. ISSN 1468-0777

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Identification Number: 10.1080/14680777.2021.1922486


Based on a thematic analysis of 7,569 posts on the online parenting forum Mumsnet Talk, in this article we examine how domestic cleaning—one of the most invisible aspects of reproductive labour—and the people who perform it are made visible. We conceptualize Mumsnet discussions as a “visibility sensor:” a technological and affective space that captures, analyses and relays information and feelings in ways that contribute to visibilizing cleaning labour and sensitizing its users to recognize the women they employ to clean their homes. At the same time, our analysis highlights the limitations of this sensor: how the visibility Mumsnet discussions afford to cleaning and cleaners tends to reinscribe its meanings within a gendered and individualized logic. This mediated visibility mostly fails to expose the systemic structures that produce and sustain the invisibility of cleaning and cleaners, and does little to sensitize participants to the ways in which their own lives are shaped by patriarchy. The article contributes to the growing feminist scholarship examining how gender and class come into public visibility through social media platforms and the “digital mamaspehere,” and the implications of this visibility for the configuration and reconfiguration of power relations.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 07 May 2021 10:12
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2021 01:06

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