Housework--often trivialized or simply overlooked in public discourse--contributes in a complex and essential way to the form that families and societies assume. In this innovative study, Marjorie L. DeVault explores the implications of "feeding the family" from the perspective of those who do that work. Along the way, DeVault offers a new vocabulary for discussing nurturance as a basis of group life and sociability. Drawing from interviews conducted in 1982-83 in a diverse group of American households, DeVault reveals the effort and skill behind the "invisible" work of shopping, cooking, and serving meals. She then shows how this work can become oppressive for women, drawing them into social relations that construct and maintain their subordinate position in household life.