The Digital Labour of Making a Share House “Home”

Authors: Sophia Maalsen*, The University of Sydney
Topics: Gender
Keywords: Digital, labour, housing, share housing
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 4:30 PM / 6:10 PM
Room: Washington 6, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Digital and automated technologies are disrupting work across multiple domains including the work of making home. This paper investigates the application of digital technologies in the share house – a living arrangement where two or more people (usually unrelated) share a house, rent and household bills. Feminists have long argued that the home is a site of labour including the gendered and uneven distribution of caring responsibilities and household tasks. The share house – although different from the heteronormative single-family dwelling – remains a site of labour and this domestic work is increasingly digitalized.

A growing number of digital applications are meant to make share household management more efficient, including online housing and flatmate profiles, bill splitting and sharing apps and online communication platforms. They are also indicative of changing housing markets, particularly rising housing prices and delayed home ownership. Share houses are no longer solely the domain of students but are rapidly being populated by young to middle age professionals with different needs, including greater importance on financial management and transparency in household transactions. Digital share house applications capitalize on this need and play an increasing role in the social labour of the home, mediating flatmate relationships and managing the household. This has implications not only for the division of household labour but also for accessing housing, with the performance of being a “good flatmate” increasingly reliant on digital competency.

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