Invisible work at work and the reproduction of gendered social service organizations

Einat Lavee, Amit Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies demonstrate that the convergence of neoliberalism and New Public Management imperatives creates conditions wherein social service providers undertake various types of unpaid work, reemphasizing the role of gender in service provision. Drawing on these arguments, this study explores the process through which unpaid practices restructure gender in social service organizations, using the concept of “invisible work.” Applying the institutional ethnography method of inquiry, we examine experiences of social service workers in the Israeli public sector and operationalize unpaid work as informal personal resources that workers provide to clients. Analysis of 185 in-depth interviews revealed three main discursive frames workers use to justify provision of personal resources. Through these frames, informal practices become invisible as work in multiple layers—to the self, the organization, and the society. Similar to invisible work in the household, its invisibility in the workplace constitutes a main force in the reproduction of gendered social service organizations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1463-1480
Number of pages18
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • gendered organizations
  • institutional ethnography
  • invisible work
  • public sector
  • unpaid work

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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