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Women, Production, and Patriarchy in Late Medieval Cities / Edition 1

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In this bold reinterpretation of Women's changing labor status during the late medieval and early modern period, Martha C. Howell argues that women's work was the product of the intersection of two systems, one cultural and one economic. Howell shows forcefully that patriarchal family structure, not capitalist development per se, was a decisive factor in determining women's work. Women could enjoy high labor status if they worked within a family production unit or if their labor did not interfere with their domestic responsibilities or threaten male control of a craft or trade.

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Editorial Reviews

Reissue of the 1986 edition. A reinterpretation of women's changing labor status in the late medieval and early modern period. Howell (history, Rutgers) argues that women's work was the product of the intersection of two systems, one cultural and one economic, and demonstrates that patriarchal family structure, not capitalist development per se, was a decisive factor in determining women's work. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226355047
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1986
  • Series: Women in Culture and Society Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 332
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 8.99 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Martha C. Howell is professor of history and director of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Columbia University.

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Table of Contents

Foreword, by Catharine R. Stimpson

Part 1: Women's Work in Medieval Cities of Northern Europe

1. A Framework for Understanding Women's Work
     The Northern European Family and the Household Economy
     Labor Status in Urban Market Economies
2. The Sex-Gender System and Economic Systems
     The Family Production Unit
     Late Medieval Market Production
     An Agenda for Research

Part Two: Empirical Studies: Leiden and Cologne

3. The Socioeconomic Structure of Leiden
     The History of the Drapery
     Politics and Government
     The Size and Structure of the Drapery
     Small Commodity Production
4. Women's Work in Leiden's Market Production
     Locating Women Workers in the Textile Industry
     Women's Work in and Around Leiden
     Patterns of Women's Work: The Organization of Market Production
5. The Socioeconomic Structure of Cologne
     The Problem of Sources
     Economic and Constitutional Background 
     The Transformation of Fifteenth-Century Cologne
     Capitalism in Cologne: A Debate
     Capitalism in Cologne: The Consequences
6. Women's Work in Cologne's Market Production
     The Women's Guilds
     The Traditional Guilds
     Women in Export-Import Trade
     Patterns and Explanations

Part 3: Points of Intersection

7. The Comparative Perspective: Lier, Douai, Frankfurt am Main
8. Women's Work and Social Change
     Women's Work and Socioeconomic Change
     Women's Work and the Patriarchal Order

1. Income from Leiden's Strikerye
2. Archival Sources for Leiden
3. Population of Leiden in 1498

Works Cited

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