Vacuum Cleaners

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Vacuum Cleaners More than just a machine that scares the dog! "Housework as we know it is not something ordained by the limits of the human immune system. It was invented, in fact, around the turn of the century, for the precise purpose of giving middle-class women something to do" (Ehrenreich). In her article, Housework is obsolescent, journalist Barbara Ehrenreich exposes the secret revolution in housework; American women just do not do housework anymore. While many authors agree that as more and more women have entered the work force the amount of time for housework has diminished, many others argue that the majority of women are still caving in and cleaning up. Amongst those maintaining that housework still occupies a large percentage of the American women's time is author Juliet Schor. Schor argues that the time devoted to housework by the American housewife has remained relatively constant since the beginning of the 20th century. The oddity of this, she explains, is that the consistency of hours "coincided with a technological revolution in the household" (Schor, 87). Not only did most homes have indoor plumbing, electricity, and gas, but many other labor-saving devices could be found such as "automatic washing machines and dryers, electric irons, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators and freezers, garbage disposals" (ibid). Why, with all these new devices, did housework time not diminish? Schor argues that as technology improved, the standard of cleanliness also rose in America. Schor argues that "Contemporary standards of housecleaning are a modern invention, like the vacuum cleaners and furniture polishes the make them possible" (Schor, 89). Who would have thought that the instrument used to clean our house is the same instrument that keeps us in the never-ending nightmare of HOUSEWORK! In a recent article titled, Work: The Great Escape, author Arlie Russell Hochschild finds that more and more people are spending longer hours at work to escape from the work that awaits them at home. "Amerco workers have not only turned their offices into "home" and their homes into workplaces; many have also begun to "Taylorize" time at home, where families are succumbing to a cult of efficiency previously associated mainly with the office and factory" (Hochschild). By looking at what consumers are demanding from appliances today in the current market, Hochschild's finding appears to be right on. Consumers are demanding that their appliances be easy to use, efficient, and highly productive with very little labor.

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