Private Troubles and Public Issues

  • Diana Kay
Part of the Edinburgh Studies in Sociology book series


This chapter and the following set out to document the experiences of women in exile. Here the experience of those women who worked outside the home in Chile (the public-private women) is examined, whilst the next chapter takes up the story from the point of view of women in the home. It is important to clarify that this difference in social location corresponds to a class difference. All women who had worked outside the home in Chile had been employed in non-manual or professional work, whilst all women in the home except one were married to manual workers. In each case the significance of being female diverged considerably. Whilst the public-private women had enjoyed a degree of economic independence, the private women had been wholly dependent upon a male breadwinner. Whilst some professional women had been directing teams of men at the workplace, some housewives had been expressly forbidden from working outside the home by their husbands. As Bujra points out, gender may be a universal category but its meaning and imperatives differ widely between groups of women.1 In particular the ability of middle-class women to employ a maid in Chile had sharply differentiated their life-experiences from those who could not. Should the private women have found work outside the home in Chile, the majority would still have had to take full responsibility for the home, as did most women in manual or casual employment.2


Public Sphere Private Sphere Domestic Labour Public Issue Family Commitment 
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  1. 1.
    J. M. Bujra, ‘Introductory: Female Solidarity and the Sexual Division of Labour’, in P. Caplan and J. M. Bujra (eds), Women United, Women Divided (London: Tavistock Publications, 1978) p. 19.Google Scholar
  2. 13.
    J. Jaquette, ‘Female Political Participation in Latin America’, in J. Nash and H. Safa (eds), Sex and Class in Latin America (New York: Praeger, 1976) pp. 221–44.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Diana Kay 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana Kay
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of GlasgowUK

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