Why study women and the industrial revolution? Deborah Valenze's groundbreaking reassessment of this classic problem in European history reminds us that questions of gender and work are at the center of our experience in the modern world.
Too often, the study of industrialization charts an inevitable and largely technological course. Valenze sets aside this approach in order to examine the underlying assumptions about gender and work that informed the transformation of English society, and in turn, our ideas about economic progress. How did England change from an agriculturally based nation, in which female labor played an active and acknowledged part, to an industrial power resting on a notion of male productivity? Through selective treatments of agriculture, spinning, and cottage industries, Valenze shows how the rise of values of productivity and rationality subordinated women of the working class and strengthened an emerging ethos of individualism. She also analyzes the influential ideas of Thomas Malthus, Hannah More, and other authors, whose publications reinforced these same tendencies in the early nineteenth century. In an elegant and compelling account, Valenze charts the birth of a new economic order resting on social and sexual hierarchies which remain a part of our contemporary lives.
Introduction: Finding the First Industrial Woman
1. Habits of Industry: Laboring Women and the Poor in surh-Century England
2. Economies of Survival: Laboring Women and Agricultural Change, 1750 - 1800
3. The Art of Women and the Business of Men: Women's work and the Dairy Industry
4. The Quarrel with Women's Work: Spinning and Displacement of Female Labor
5. A New World of Work: Female labor and the Development of the Factory System
6. Invisible Breadwinners: Women and the Declining Status of the Cottage Industry
7. Women in the age of Malthus: Political Economy and the Feminization of the Female Worker
8. Recasting Women in the Workshop of the World: Middle-Class Authority and the Female Poor
9. The Other Victorian Women: The Domestic Servant in the Industrial Age