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homeworkinga form of remunerated labour undertaken within the home. In the pre-factory era of manufacture, items would be delivered to households (the ‘putting out’ system) for further processing, and collected when this had been completed. In Europe, the practice continued after the introduction of factories, but probably declined until the late 20th-century when it was revived, especially with the introduction of more flexible patterns of production. In many contemporary Asian and Latin American countries, homeworking is very common, with parts of the production process contracted out. Its attraction for modern firms is that homeworkers (often women) represented a flexible and cheap labour force. Factory overhead costs are also reduced. Homeworking or ‘outwork’ should not be confused with DOMESTIC LABOUR. see also DOMESTIC PRODUCTION.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000