Normative violence in domestic service: a study of exploitation, status, and grievability

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Rohit Varman
  • Per Skålén
  • Russell W. Belk
  • Himadri Roy Chaudhuri

External organisations

  • Karlstad University
  • York University


This paper contributes to business ethics by focusing on consumption that is characterized by normative violence. By drawing on the work of Judith Butler this study of kajer lok—a female subaltern group of Indian domestic service providers—and their higher status clients shows how codes of status-based consumption shaped by markets, class, caste, and patriarchy create a social order that reduces kajer lok to “ungreivable” lives. Our study contributes to business ethics by focusing on exploitation and coercion in consumption rather than in production and of woman rather than of men. It adds to consumer research by revealing how social distinctions not only manifest in status contests in which symbolic power is at stake but also may produce violent exploitation and ungrievable lives.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Early online date28 Jan 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jan 2020


  • Consumer ethics, Exploitation, Judith Butler, Normative violence, Status consumption, Grievability