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Chapter 2

SOC366H Chapter 2 Gendered Work in Time and Place

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University of Toronto St. George
Stephen Reid

January 24 , 2013 Chapter 2 Gendered Work in Time and Place The sexual division of labour in preindustrial Europe - In preindustrial Western societies, almost everyone worked - Most people devoted their lives to feeding an housing themselves Agricultural work th - Prior to industrialization, which began in the West in the 18 century, most people worked in agriculture, either as serfs who farmed land held by members of the nobility of, later, as peasants who owned small parcels of land - Among the serfs and peasants, men usually plowed and threshed, women weeded, and both sexes harvested - Before industrialization, the work of servants resembled that of peasants. Both sexes worked as servants - In preindustrial agriculture, women’s and men’s tasks overlapped, although the sexual division of labour defined cooking, cleaning, and spinning as women’s work - Although the jobs that women and men usually did were seen as equally valuable, preindustrial agriculture was hardly a paradise of sex equality Manufacturing work - Even before industrialization, some people worked in manufacturing products – as craft workers in workhouses, workshops, or their own cottages - Although the sexes had similar levels of skills, men in manufacturing substantially outearned women and enjoyed more autonomy - Women’s workshops o In medieval Europe, all-female workhouses existed in which female residents manufactured textiles o They dyed, wove, and embroidered fabric that they sewed into clothing for monks and nobles. In exchange for their labour, they received their board and room o Many were slaves of the nobility or the monasteries or the wives and children of slaves, others were serves or were imprisoned in workhouses for crimes such as prostitution o These women’s workshops died out before industrialization - Artisans o A more enduring preindustrial system of production was the guild system, in which artisans (craft workers) produced a variety of products from scratch o Guilds – associations of tradespeople or craft workers organized to protect their members’ interests – oversaw most production that occurred outside the home o Artisans were skilled workers who produced fine products o Almost all artisans were men, and earned an income from the products they made and sold o The guilds – the precursors of modern unions – controlled the apprenticeship systems through which artisans learned their craft o Guilds closed apprenticeships to a variety of people, including most women - Cottage industry o Before industrialization shifted production to factories, peasants – mostly women and children – manufactured some goods at home through a system of cottage industry o Cottage workers were paid on a piecework basis (by the amount of work completed, called a piece rate) o Peasant women, whose first priority was work for their own families, made time for cottage industry by laboring every available minute January 24 , 2013 The industrialthevolution - In 18 century, capitalism transformed how western Europeans produced and distributed goods and services - Family production was replaced by market production in which capitalists paid workers wages to produce goods in factories and mines - As paid works, people manufactured products that were sold by middlemen The emergency of the labor force - In moving the production of goods from home to factory, industrialization created a new institution: a labour force, comprised of people who work for pay or actively seek paid work - The creation of the labour force split working people into three groups: wage workers and unemployed persons who sought paid jobs, and the nonemployed - A class of nonemployed people was a growing group of unpaid workers who cooked and cleaned for family members, raised children, cared for sick relatives, and provided social and emotional support to family, friends, and community - For past 200 years, men have been more likely than women to belong to the labour force, and women have been more likely than men to be unpaid workers Industrialization and the sexual division of labour - Industrialization created two new distinctions between men’s and women’s work roles: 1. Assigned men to paid work and women to unpaid work of running a household a. Employers organized work and set pay on the assumption that workers were men 2. Men support women and children The sexual division of pthd and unpaid work - Throughout 19 century, the labour force became increasingly male - As employment became urbanized, women’s labour force participation fell, and the labour force became masculinized - Early unions viewed women and children as a threat to men’s jobs and wages, so they set out to drive children and women out of all factory and mining jobs - Unions allied with middle-class reformers who sought laws to protect children and women from dangerous working conditions th - Pressure from unions and reformers led 19 century lawmakers in Europe and U.S to pass protective labour laws banning exploitative employment practices o Prohibited the employment of children & women for more than a specific number of hours a day, from working at night, from holding certain jobs, etc o These laws also denied women high-paying factory jobs o Contributed to masculinization of the labour force and reinforced the assumption that it was men’s responsibility to support their families - Need drove many women to work for pay, and employers sought women for low-paying factory jobs - Because employers could pay women less than men, they looked for unmarried female workers The ideology of separate spheres - Labour force participation among married women is low because of the ideology of separate spheres o A separation of family life from paid work o Held that a woman’s proper place was in the home and not in the workplace o Man’s natural sphere was not in the home; it was in the world of commerce or at his job o The ideology of separate spheres encouraged men to work away from home and women to confine productive activities to the household January 24 , 2013 o Stereotypes of men as strong, aggressive and competitive and of women as frail, virtuous, and nurturing - Respectable married women had two responsibilities: creating a haven to which their husbands could retreat from the world of work and demonstrating through their own nonemployment their husbands’ ability to support their families - An employed wife was a sign of her husband’s failure - Wives’ employment brought shame not only on their husbands but also on themselves - The ideology of separate spheres forced men as well as women into narrow roles - Masculinity was measured by the size of a man’s paycheck - The ideology of separate spheres restricted both women and men, yet it nevertheless bestowed the social rewards of prestige and power in the public sphere on some men, but not women - The Great Depression of 1930s brought record of unemployment, but still failed to draw large numbers of married women into the labour force - Employers (including the government) were reluctant to hire married women while men were out of work - Ideology of separate spheres has contributed to the gendering of modern work in several ways: 1. Although it assigned men the obligation to support their families, it also provided them with a
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