More work for Roomba? Domestic robots, housework and the production of privacy

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Housework is hard work. Keeping our homes clean, tidy and comfortable takes effort and every moment we spend on housework (that we would prefer to avoid) means we have less time to devote to our private lives. Over the past two decades, numerous companies have created robots designed to relieve their owners of housework. Having robots take care of housework for us, it seems, would enable us to focus our energy at home on private pursuits we find valuable, such as spending quality time with our loved ones, recreation, and relaxation. Although this line of reasoning helps explain why domestic robots are in high demand, this article will contest its validity throughout. By drawing from historical accounts of older, ostensibly labour-saving domestic technologies, it will argue that we should expect domestic robots to alter the nature of housework rather than reduce the need for it. Overall, it will argue that domestic robots change what needs to be done for their owners to enjoy their private lives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-112
Number of pages15
JournalPrometheus (Abingdon): critical studies in innovation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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