Invisible Work

Years of Activity: 2015 - 2016

Research Status:

Not Active

Participants: Prof. Hanna Herzog, Prof. Naomi Chazan, Dr. Einat Albin, Dr. Neta Arnon-Shoshani, Linoi Asfir, Hadass Ben Eliyahu, Ronna Brayer-Garb, Ya’ara Buxbaum, Yehudit Chasida, Dr. Miri Endwald, Dr. Yael Hasson, Dr. Anat Herbst, Dr. Amit Kaplan, Dr. Einat Lavi, Dr. Hadas Mandel, Dr. Sigal Nagar-Ron, Osnat Peled-Levi, Dr. Nadav Perez-Vaisvidovsky, Liora Rofman, Dr. Miri Rosmarin, Samah Salaime Egebariya, Dr. Erella Shadmi



During the two years (2015–2016) that the research group operated at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, it discussed thoroughly the concept of Invisible Work and its meanings. The group’s members included researchers in sociology, economics, and welfare policy. The discussions led to the understanding that the topic of Invisible Work is the key to understanding the extent of women’s obligations and their perception of time, and thus to an understanding of the obstacles to their full and equal integration in the workforce.


The following are some of the conclusions the group has reached:

Invisible Work includes household duties in the private sphere, voluntary work in the public sphere, and emotional and care work conducted in both the public and the private spheres, but it is neither defined nor recognized as labor and is not compensated as such. Invisible Work is a covert, but powerful, sociocultural mechanism that maintains gender inequality and the hierarchical relations between the public and private spheres. Including Invisible Work in the social agenda requires a renewed evaluation of the reduced value attached to the work of care-giving, support, and education and of the structure of the labor market and women’s place in it.

Invisible Work should be understood and analyzed in the context of the relations between work and non-work; between paid labor and unpaid labor; between private and public. In the private sphere, Invisible Work includes housework (both routine and non-routine tasks) and care work. In the public sphere, Invisible Work includes "workplace-housekeeping" tasks such as responsibility for refreshments, cleaning, and arrangements for unofficial social functions in the workplace, or taking care of private and family matters for the employer. It also includes the support and emotional labor in both spheres. In addition, even in paid labor, especially care work, there are elements that are unpaid and unrecognized. One example is care of the elderly and disabled, particularly such care in the individual’s home.

The group’s work was presented at a conference on December 7, 2016, with the support of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. The conference aroused much media attention. See for example: An interview with Dr. Maha Karkabi-Sabbah, chief researcher of the WIPS Center project on Invisible Work; An interview with Dr. Einat Lavi on how impoverished mothers cope with the education system; and An article on Invisible Work on ynet.

For an information sheet and policy suggestions see attached file (in Hebrew).