wealth (6, 14, 78, 102, 118, 122). Cross-cultural studies of gender have under-mined the domestic/public opposition as universal or even particularly mean-ingful (19, 46, 75, 80, 94, 95, 114, 121). The household’s role in social repro-duction is as culturally constructed as its economic role (122), and the rela-tionship between child rearing and women’s economic activities is noteverywhere the same (20, 78, 87). Domestic action and relations, defined asthose that occur within the household, are of larger political and economic sig-nificance precisely because they are not separable from the relationships andprocesses that make up the “public domain.” “[D]omestic relationships are of-ten so inextricably intermeshed with relationships of political alliance that toseparate the domestic aspects from the political aspects is to misconstrue theserelationships” (122:191). Household relations and actions are not isolatedfrom society as a whole nor do they merely react passively to changes im-posed from outside.In this review I consider recent archaeological research on the domesticgroup. I discuss the degree to which this research has dealt with householdpractice and the political nature of domestic relations as important to an un-derstanding of social and economic processes in past societies. I pay particularattention to how relations among household members and the organization of domestic labor have been modeled by this research. I discuss briefly house-hold archaeology to illustrate why little of this work has come to grips withthese issues. I then turn to studies of craft specialization and the role of women that have been more successful.Although the studies reviewed here use data from a range of time periodsand geographic regions, a good many of them deal with pre-Columbian NewWorld or Neolithic European societies. Research on pre-Columbian LatinAmerican households has been informed by assumptions of long-term cul-tural continuity allowing the use of regional ethnohistorical and ethnographicdata as sources for models (3, 5, 25, 36, 41, 54, 55, 61, 62, 100). Study of Neolithic Period European households is more recent and demonstrateshow ideas about household organization and change are developed in the ab-sence of such a rich culturally specific record (1, 2, 9, 102–108). In the re-view, I use
interchangeably to refer to the task-oriented, coresident, and symbolically meaningful social group that forms“the next bigger thing on the social map after an individual” (45:40–41), agroup that archaeologists have tried to study based on the remains of houses,or other sorts of living space, and the traces of activities associated withthis space. Although ethnographic research shows that coresidence, domesticactivities, and the household are not necessarily isomorphic (6), they oftenare. The assumption is a practical necessity for archaeology and is acceptedhere.
THE ORGANIZATION OF DOMESTIC LABOR 47
A n n u . R e v . A n t h r o p o l . 1 9 9 6 . 2 5 : 4 5 - 6 1 . D o w n l o a d e d f r o m a r j o u r n a l s . a n n u a l r e v i e w s . o r g b y T U F T S U N I V E R S I T Y o n 0 5 / 0 4 / 0 5 . F o r p e r s o n a l u s e o n l y .