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In the 17th century, Europeans worked largely from their homes, often as artisans and farmers. Each family member had a hierarchical place in the flow of tasks, attuned to their age and skills, and were acknowledged for that contribution.

Then came the Industrial Revolution, which sent workers en masse into factories, and the accepted definition of work suddenly changed: laborers earning cash outside the home were doing authentic work, while those at home — largely women and children — were not.

This lost status has plagued European and American women ever since.

And it's relevant today, social historian Andrea Komlosy tells Axios. She is the author of "Work: The Last 1,000 Years," an original treatment of history that has just been translated from German. I spoke with her about lessons for the current age of automation.

  • The advanced economies need to reassess their definition of work and how people are paid, Komlosy said.
  • It should include every task that allows advanced society to function, including volunteering, caring for family members, and household work.
  • All of these roles should be acknowledged with paid income.

The long view: Komlosy's narrative begins with the Greeks but focuses on 1250 forward. So that, while a radical change in the western model of work may not seem realistic, she says, "We have had so many ways to organize societies through history. It won't be this way forever." She said, "society will have to come to new solutions."

Go deeper: Listen to an interview with Komlosy at the Financial Times.

Go deeper

Updated 7 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Dave Lawler, author of World
21 mins ago - World

Biden holds first phone call with Putin, raises Navalny arrest

Putin takes a call in 2017. Photo: Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty

President Biden on Tuesday held his first call since taking office with Vladimir Putin, pressing the Russian president on the arrest of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the Russia-linked hack on U.S. government agencies, AP reports.

The state of play: Biden also planned to raise arms control, bounties allegedly placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who said the call took place while she was delivering a press briefing. Psaki added that a full readout will be provided later Tuesday.

Biden signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.