Sensing the (in)visible: domestic cleaning and cleaners on Mumsnet Talk

Orgad, Shani and Higgins, Kathryn Claire. 2022. Sensing the (in)visible: domestic cleaning and cleaners on Mumsnet Talk. Feminist Media Studies, 22(8), pp. 1951-1971. ISSN 1468-0777 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Based on a thematic analysis of 7,569 posts on the online parenting forum Mumsnet Talk, in this article we examine how domestic cleaning—one of the most invisible aspects of reproductive labour—and the people who perform it are made visible. We conceptualize Mumsnet discussions as a “visibility sensor:” a technological and affective space that captures, analyses and relays information and feelings in ways that contribute to visibilizing cleaning labour and sensitizing its users to recognize the women they employ to clean their homes. At the same time, our analysis highlights the limitations of this sensor: how the visibility Mumsnet discussions afford to cleaning and cleaners tends to reinscribe its meanings within a gendered and individualized logic. This mediated visibility mostly fails to expose the systemic structures that produce and sustain the invisibility of cleaning and cleaners, and does little to sensitize participants to the ways in which their own lives are shaped by patriarchy. The article contributes to the growing feminist scholarship examining how gender and class come into public visibility through social media platforms and the “digital mamaspehere,” and the implications of this visibility for the configuration and reconfiguration of power relations.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Social reproduction; visibility; social media; domestic work; gendered relations; class

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


23 October 2020Submitted
22 April 2021Accepted
10 June 2021Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

14 Feb 2024 11:22

Last Modified:

14 Feb 2024 11:22

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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