This project will investigate how knowledge production takes place within the context of an international organization (IO) – the International Labour Organization (ILO). It will look into how what we know about domestic work has developed in the context of the establishment of the ILO’s Convention on Domestic Work (C189). The latter is a landmark global treaty that seeks to set employment standards and norms, for domestic workers. To date, C189 has only been ratified by 35 countries. The low ratification rate belies the demand for this kind of worker worldwide. This is an indicator of a ‘global care deficit’ and ‘crisis of social reproduction.’ This demand will not only increase in volume but also scope as the global population continues to age. The increasing complexity of these mobilities demand collective action and provision of global public goods.

This project will examine how various actors engage with an international institution in making knowledge claims about domestic work. It will illustrate the contingency of these claims, to show that the process by which knowledge about domestic work is created is highly contentious - as actors compete over definition of terms, scope, jurisdiction, etc. By investigating how ‘science’, or the authoritative production of knowledge claims, informs politics and vice versa, this project aims to illustrate what Sheila Jasanoff calls civic epistemology: “the institutionalized practices by which members of a given society test and deploy knowledge claims used as a basis for making collective choices.” This project draws from the sociality of knowledge production in feminist interventions in science and technology studies that attend to different sources of epistemic authority, including voices ‘from below.’ The project will proceed in two stages: an analysis of the run-up to C189’s adoption and an investigation of how the ILO’s norm-setting activities diffuse to and from a regional organisation – the European Union.