Society of African Journal Editors

South African Journal of Sociology

White housewives: An introductory study

Authors: Linda N. Smedley

Journal: South African Journal of Sociology

In view of the dearth, in South Africa, of sociological literature pertaining to the position of women in society today, this article attempts to open up a large and significant area of inquiry — White housewives — in the hope that further research into this area will be stimulated. The findings of a pilot study of Pretoria housewives were compared with Oakley's London data. One important difference between the London sample and the Pretoria respondents was the presence of a domestic servant in the majority of the Pretoria homes. Witte respect to various aspects of housework, differences between the Pretoria housewives and the London sample were found; monotony, time pressures, social isolation and inadequacies of the technical environment were less keenly experienced by the Pretoria housewives than by the London sample. Fragmentation was, however, a common experience amongst both groups of housewives. Moreover, it would appear that the more favourable attitudes which were expressed by the Pretoria housewives toward various aspects of housework reflect the more satisfactory conditions under which such housework is done rather than, feelings about the nature of the work itself. It would appear that certain characteristics of housework are more or less uniformly experienced by women as dissatisfying and that a distinction has to be made between a women's orientation to the housewife role and her feelings about housework. A rider is added to the effect that organized feminism has failed to come to grips with the dialectic between social reality and individual existence.