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Geography and Environmental Science

Learning more about the changing geography of the home

Published: 20 March 2018
Image of household
The changing geography of the home

The ERC WORKANDHOME project investigates the changing geography of the home through the lens of home-based working of self-employed people and owners of micro-enterprises. Together with the ILS Dortmund in Germany, researchers use interviews, photographs and participants observations in Germany, France, Belgium and Sweden to explore how domestic and economic relations and functions are reshaped in the home and how these in turn are changing the meanings of the home. While the home was a place of paid work in pre-industrial times, industrialisation together with modern urban planning led to the separation of home and work. Fundamental changes in both economy and society have now ‘revived’ homeworking. However, what is new is that these homeworkers also work for themselves and not for a company.

The homeworking of self-employed workers who work for themselves has profound effects on our understanding of residential choice, neighbourhood, community and business location. Significantly, suburbs emerge as economic places from our research where people adapt their homes to their work, for example in order to see clients in their home. Thinking about how to increase productivity of workers, tackling the social isolation of the self-employed working in their homes alone is one means that should be taken into account in economic development.

The researchers on this project are working with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to make home-based business activity more visible and to raise awareness of the extent and value – economically and socially – of home-based businesses in economic development and business policy.

This project is brought to you by Darja Reuschke, Annabelle Wilkins and Markieta Domecka from Geography and Environment at the University of Southampton, along with Andrea Dittrich-Wesbuer and Cornelia Tippel from the ILS Dortmund, Germany.

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