The author argues that recent attempts to build a domestic workers’ movement in Indonesia can be understood as an ongoing and non-linear process driven by claims for industrial citizenship. Thomas Humphrey Marshall’s concept of industrial citizenship, presented in his historical analysis of industrial Britain, drew some profound connections between political mobilisation and the realisation of rights that seemed to resonate with contexts far beyond its (i.e. industrial Britain’s) time and place. Based on a qualitative research project in five Indonesian cities, the author shows how an embryonic movement has mobilised for legislative recognition of domestic worker rights, and explains why mobilisation has proved difficult. Based on both a decontextualised and recontextualised reading of the concept of industrial citizenship, the author concludes there are three main reasons for the limited political success of the domestic workers’ movement are identified: a limiting social identity attributed to domestic workers in Indonesia; the intersectionality of informal domestic work as reflected in the institutions of the labour market; and the lack of mutually constitutive scales of organising between the urban neighbourhoods in which domestic workers live and work and policymaking at the national level.