Class Notes (839,590)
Canada (511,419)
York University (35,597)
POLS 2900 (130)


7 Pages

Political Science
Course Code
POLS 2900
Jennifer Stephen

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Intro • In 1932, worst years of great depression • 15 yr old Norma Vineham • She took streetcars to her job in downtown, Toronto, dominion silk mills • Her and her sister were earning wages to support their father and 2 brothers • Despite gender, women had long working hours, by the inter war years, greater hours and lower wages than men • For young women they were in breadwinning positions and could result in rewarding and burdensome • Felt independence and sacrificed schooling opportunities and personal freedom • Questions raised: danger, affecting families, and they answered by examining the experiences of young women in Toronto economy, homes, places of leisure in 1930’s • 100 interviews raised with women and men from 1997 and 2005 • Newspapers: Toronto Daily Star and Evening Telegram from 1931-1941, along with government reports, documents and police records, photos and magazines, to provide a sense of the social and cultural world of the city • Examining ‘historical conjunctures’allows us to uncover and understand the complex results of systems of social power such as citizenship and patriarchy • History of the Great Depression in Canada and elsewhere has focused on the unemployed male and the eco and political shifts that were the harbinger and backdrop to this world. • Breadwinning daughters is a feminist project it argues that women are central to our understanding of the history in 1930’s, pg 6 • Breadwinning Daughters also joins an ever expanding field of scholarship in women’s and gender history that’s committed to challenging dominant natural narratives that privilege the stories of the white British majority and do so without considering characterized life in a post colonial society pg 7 • Even with these significant challenges to our ways of understanding different amongst women, race suffers a particular neglect in Canadian women’s and gender history particularly relates to questions of power and privilege • Narratives of human rights which became entrenched in the vocabulary of western nations after the second world war heavily influenced the memories of the women in breadwinning daughter pg 9 • From the emblematic stock market crash to the onset of the second world war, the 1930’s th was one of the most difficult decades in the 20 century and Canada was among the hardest hit of western nations pg12 • For the majority of family who belonged to the working or lower middle class and whose earning , just covered expenses, Toronto wasn’t a place of opportunity pg 12 • The collapse of the male-dominant construction industry was one of the first indications of the severity of the situations pg 12 • They hoped that private charity would be sufficient for those in need pg 12-13 • As the depression dragged on, more and more provinces and those directly responsible for the unemployed, municipalities, were crying out for help from the fed gov’t pg 13 • Canadians be given ‘work not charity’. In 1930, the city of Toronto established a civic unemployment relief committee to oversee the development of relief jobs • Until 1933, House of Industry, was main source of food relief in the city pg 13 • The government used all means possible to discarded people from relying on aid, failing to recognize that most people would much rather work than accept relief a demoralizing and very public indication of family crisis pg 13 • In 1933, a voucher system replaced the House of Industry as the main source for food relief in Toronto pg 14 • Though it was hardly ideal to place daughters in the position of breadwinner, their workforce participation of breadwinner, their workforce participation was less demoralizing and typically profitable than relief pg 14 • Women were on integral part of the economic and cultural fabric of Toronto in the 1930s pg 14 • Ch1 places these women within the special, cultural, and economic milieu of Depression- era Toronto pg14 • Chapter 2 offers a glimpse into the private worlds of Toronto’s working daughter pg14 • Through an analysis of women’s paid work in domestic service, clerical of women’s paid work in domestic service, clerical work, manufacturing and teaching, ch3 enters the female world of work pg15 • Ch 4 considers the threats women workers faced in the city pg 15 • Though public space was a source of real and perceived danger for women, the fifth and finally chapter demonstrates that young employed women also managed to ‘kick up theirs heels’and have fun in the depression pg 15 • As workers in Canada’s second largest urban center they earned wages in fact, classrooms, classrooms, houses of wealthy, and offices of Toronto pg 16 • In order to feed, clothe, and house their families in a period when unemployment had made male breadwinning particularly precarious. In the process they dealt with the discrimination, negotiated insecurity, covered out space for happiness and amusement in one of the most difficult periods of the twentieth century. Pg16 Chapter 1- Young working women in a depression era • The economic reality placed young women in positions typically occupied by their fathers in the family economy and altered lifestages they had been taught were a natural part of life between childhood, adult and including schooling wage earning and marriage pg 17 • This examines what this negations of societal expectations, economic realities and individuals dreams meant to Toronto’s young working women.As such it examines the place of young women workers within depression era discussion of employment and unemployment • It was essentials for her to adopt the behaviors and appearance of dutiful daughter, including working in women’s jobs and transgressing dominant notions of feminine respectability pg 17 • Thus working girls faced censure from the state, legal system and their communities pg 18 • For violating or appealing to challenge societal expectations about their position and role pg 18 • Between 1931-1941 the number of women between the ages of fifteen and thirty five who found job in Toronto steadily increased pg 19 • To be understood as a dutiful and normal working daughter it was necessary for young women to avoid constraining other expectations about proper feminine behaviors pg 20 • Lifelong employment was still understood as a male prerogative (right) pg 20 • While education and employment were presented as transit women were not expected to become wage earner s for life pg 20 • Local and national newspapers to argue that female employment was threatening the family and male breadwinner pg 21 • ‘Being fooled and allowed to believe that there (was) a position for every girl’pg 21 • Single working daughter had much greater latitude and space to be workers than their married counterparts pg 22 • Once a girl got married she stayed home pg 23 • The vast majority of women, both married and single, worked
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