SOC214H1 Lecture Notes - Separate Spheres, Industrial Revolution, Age Of Enlightenment

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New Middle-Class Ideals of Family & Marriage in the 19th century &
Working-Class Families
I. The idea that marriage should be based on love-Stephanie Coontz, Marriage, A History
A. „Household economies‟ : married couples “working partners” in separate households: foundation for
love based marriage
This changes involved middle and upper class couples. At least people can refuse the partner their
parents have chosen for them
It is a slow development which occurred over three centuries
B. Changing Ideas
1) The Protestant Reformation (16th century): marriage as a superior state, the importance of the roles
of husband and wife and mother, & the responsibilities of parents to their children
2) The Enlightenment (18th century): the innocence of children, love as the basis of marriage
A period of cultural flourishing from Italy to Europe. Men started to understand and believe that
we can create society
3) The French and American revolutions (18th): equality and the pursuit of happiness as human rights
New ideas that contrast of the previous view and belief. Women should be equal and people are
II. The “Cult of Domesticity” and Gender as “Separate Spheres”
A. Economic change: the development of an industrial capitalist economy
1) The development of a capitalist class and a market economy characterized by impersonal market
forces operating beyond the control of humans
2) The development of a “working class” (needing to work for wages) as peasants lost access to land
and artisans were increasingly unable to set themselves up in business
3) A new economic order, tremendous social changes
B. The rise of the middle class
1) The search by successful businessmen for a retreat, of virtue and caring: the Home
2) Long-term trend: the separation of commodity producing work & the home and family life.
3) The search by the new middle class for a public identity as a class: domestic roles, badge of virtue
C. The Effects for family
1) The “cult of domesticity,” the family as a “haven in a heartless world” (C. Lasch)
2) “Separate spheres” gender ideology: men and women as “opposite sexes” belonging in separate
spheres (public and private), with different roles (breadwinning and homemaking/mothering)- the
spirit of business and public life thus appeared to diverge from that of the home chiefly because the
two spheres were the separate domains of the two sexes
Women represented „disinterestedness‟ because they were economically dependent. Their
properties belonged to their husbands. Domestic occupations began to mean for women what
worldly occupations meant for men. Domesticity as a vocation meant that woman‟s work role
imitated man‟s while lacking his means of escape
3) Motherhood as women‟s career/vocation, and the role of properly socializing children, to prepare
them for a new economy
Due to industrialization, men needed to work away from home, women bear the responsibilities
to take care of the children. The home and work place also being separated during that period,
fewer adults were available in child rearing.
Fertility rate decreased because the society needed more skilled labour and they want the
mothers to raised quality children
III. Working-Class Families
A. Harsh conditions during the development of industrial capitalism - men‟s low wages, women‟s “piece
work” at home, child labour (Bettina Bradbury, Working Families)
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