Through the Kitchen Window: The Politics of Home and Family. Rev. ed.


173 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-920059-49-X
DDC 305.43'649






Reviewed by Elaine G. Porter

Elaine Porter is an associate professor of Sociology and Anthropology,
Laurentian University.


This book would be a bargain at twice its price. Its value lies not only
in the larger print and the chapters added since the first edition in
1986. All the chapters exist as articles elsewhere, but their
consolidation in this book gives coherence to the feminist viewpoint
common to them all. While none of the chapters has theoretical import,
this book clearly delineates the issues women face as they struggle to
reconcile the contradictions between their own situations and the social
constructions that shape different expectations for men and women. The
various authors provide a wealth of data that demolish the myth that
households exist in pristine privacy, and safety, from the public world.

In the two new chapters, Luxton exploits the kitchen-window
metaphor’s potential to symbolize the interpenetration of family and
the world outside it. Like the first edition, the book begins with
Luxton’s now-classic description of third-generation Flin Flon
wives’ ingenuity in urging their husbands to participate in housework,
and their husbands’ equal ingenuity in resisting. This chapter sets
the stage for looking beyond individualized, privatized solutions. The
new chapter on foreign domestic workers hammers this point home; its
description of the imported laborers magnifies the injustices housewives
suffer as employed women reduce their burden of work.

Ending the book with a new chapter on a corporation’s power to evade
legal prosecution for diluting baby juice strengthens the authors’
shared viewpoint: the solutions to household problems lie in the realm
of public and corporate policy.

Several parts of the book discuss women’s efforts to organize against
the corporate structure and to enter the union movement as equal actors,
but these actions represent only the possibility for change. Corporate
windows still represent one-way mirrors penetrating and shaping domestic
life. This book raises the issues that cut across these realities, so
that men and women might define common interests.


Luxton, Meg., “Through the Kitchen Window: The Politics of Home and Family. Rev. ed.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024,