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“To be Good at Public and Domestic Work, I Need Three Heads and Six Hands”: The Dilemma of Vietnamese “Modern” Women

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Chapter Summary

Since the birth of modern Vietnam, fundamental social changes along socialist ideology have brought about considerable improvement in women's status, both in family and public arenas. This chapter examines the perceptions of and attitudes towards housework among married men and women of reproductive age in urban and rural Vietnam, the current state of their involvement in domestic work, and the value of that work in monetary terms, albeit currently unpaid. One of the key challenges for research on housework is how to conceptualize it, especially in its relationship to the family's well-being, gender construction, and the reproduction of society. The chapter argues that, as in every other society, housework and domestic labor play an important role in both family and community life in Vietnam. Even at the national and international level, domestic work can have enormous economic value.

Keywords: housework; public work; Vietnam; women



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