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Title: The separation of work and home? : the case of the Lancashire textiles, 1825-1865
Author: Evans, Clare
ISNI:       0000 0004 2678 7702
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 1990
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The thesis studies the working lives of women of the Lancashire textile industry across two periods of subsistence crises. The first relates to the decline of handloom weaving and domestic manufacture; the second relates to the period of severe unemployment characterised as the Cotton Famine, 1861-5. The aim has been to explore how ideologies concerning women traversed the boundaries between household and workplace, to suggest the range of positions they occupied within differing family economies and by so doing, to free them from contemporary ideas of women as dependants within the prevailing family wage ideology. Extensive household surveys of domestic textile communities around Marsden, in north-east Lancashire, form the basis of a computer-based study of the effects on women's lives of proletarianisation. In order to escape from reproducing existing notions of the household as gaining its definition from the primarily male head, a series of alternative approaches were employed. These revealed an extensive pattern of women's work, and in particular highlighted the role of young female earners as a vital component of the interdependent household economy. The contrast between the significance of women and younger household members in the intense process of proletarianisation of the 1830s to the 1850s and the public discussions of their role in the new systems of labour are explored. It is suggested that the languages employed offered limited scope for equality between men and women so that the legal, political and economic subject in debates became the adult male head of household. A case-study from the Lomeshaye Mills at Marsden, is used to show how age and gender differences were amplified in the mechanised labour processes. Policies governing unemployed women operatives during the Cotton Famine years are seen to be heavily influenced by the notion of the dependent domestic servant as the ideal working woman. A study is made of sewing schools established for unemployed textile women workers at Preston and Manchester. It is argued that relief programmes viewed men as producers of labour power and of value production, governed primarily by lifecourse events, and women as potential reproducers of labour power and use-value, governed by life-cycle events. The different experiences of unemployment between women workers at the schools are charted to emphasise the diversity operating behind the blanketing of their lives in terms of a structured heterosexual dependency.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Not available Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available