Winter - Handout lecture #1
For SOSC 1185
From L. Wiggins
GENDERED DIVISION OF LABOUR IN THE FAMILY & WAGED
WORK – HISTORICAL
• Women as well as men have always worked. However, the nature of work including
who does what work, where it occurs, & valuing of work has changed.
• Post-Industrial Revolution period is characterized by a focus on waged work as ‘real’
work & more valued, while family work & housework seen as a ‘labour of love’ and as
a ‘natural’ aspect of women’s role.
• The historical transformation of work & ideas about work as well as the impact these
have on individuals can be examined using a macro, social construction perspective.
This allows us to both identify & better explain women’s economic inequality (gender
wage gap, occupational segregation, etc.) via a systematic GBA.
• This understands that ‘family’ & the economy are socially, historically constructed
institutions influenced by current dominant ideology or ‘systems of meaning’ + material
• This perspective also recognizes important links between family & economy & state.
Economy: the organization of resources to produce what we need to survive; so production,
distribution, exchange, sale, and consumption of goods and services. 2
II. Families/households & economy historically:
1. Families & work in early subsistence economy
• Family group is unit of production (family based economy); all members contribute
• Division of labour based on sex, age - but division of labour didn’t always mean
systemic gender inequality
• Women’s work of gathering & transforming resources is essential to survival
2. Early colonization, pre-industrial period in Canada
• Early colonization based on trapping, fur trade, exploring
• Introduction of more technology, move to agrarian or fishing exchange economy but
family still unit of production
• Some surplus & bartering or exchange of goods. Important issues: who controlled
the surplus produced, inheritance & issues of ownership overall
• Women’s work still key in terms of reproduction & maintenance of family economy
• However, patriarchal & Eurocentric values & norms become increasingly dominant
3. Early industrialization in Canada:
• Impact of the ‘Doctrine of Two Spheres’ & ideology of male breadwinner who was
expected to earn a ‘family wage’, female housewife/mother
• White Eurocentric middle class ‘norm’ for idealized nuclear family; but need to
remember there were difference between the idealized norm & the reality of daily
lives & experiences due to class, race/ethnicity, geographic location, etc.
• Gradual change in expectations of families moving from unit of production to unit of
• More urban living patterns 3
• Increased monetization of markets & increased production for the marketplace
rather than for one’s own home consumption, more goods and services available for
• Development of technology & knowledge base (affected workplace, family life,
Impact on waged work:
• Now tied to the clock, more regimented, often supervised, more routine, more