Ambivalent (In)Visibility: Commercial Cleaning Work during the Covid-19 Crisis in Austria

Publication: Chapter in book/Conference proceedingChapter in edited volume

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In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, some jobs became publicly highlighted as
‘essential’ or ‘key’ work. In German-speaking countries, this discourse focuses
on the so-called ‘system-relevant’ work (see also Grenz/Günster and Dudley
in this volume). Even if the terms differ, they basically refer to jobs that are
indispensable for basic human needs and the functioning of society. Among
them are jobs in care and medicine, schools and teaching, and critical infrastructure such as public transport and waste disposal. Cleaning is another of these system-relevant professions. Cleaning work is necessary for the functioning of a society and its economy.

What, then, does the new attention to key work in the context of the pandemic mean for cleaning work? What does it imply for the working conditions
of cleaners during the pandemic and in the future? How is the cleaning sector
faring in the crisis? In this paper, I will take a closer look at these questions.
The objective is to shed light on work in a sector that often remains invisible
(Sardadvar 2019) and has particularly bad employment conditions (see section
2 in this paper), and to see how the pandemic has affected it.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCovid, Crisis, Care, and Change? International Gender Perspectives on Re/Production, State and Feminist Transitions
Editors Antonia Kupfer, Constanze Stutz
Place of PublicationLeverkusen Opladen
PublisherBarbara Budrich
Pages31 - 44
ISBN (Print)978-3-8474-2541-0
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 504001 General sociology
  • 504011 Genealogy
  • 504014 Gender studies
  • 509

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