Feminism and the Servant Problem: Class and Domestic Labour in the Women's Suffrage Movement

Feminism and the Servant Problem: Class and Domestic Labour in the Women's Suffrage Movement

by Laura Schwartz


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In the early twentieth century, women fought for the right to professional employment and political influence outside the home. Yet if liberation from household 'drudgery' meant employing another woman to do it, where did this leave domestic servants? Both inspired and frustrated by the growing feminist movement, servants began forming their own trade unions, demanding better conditions and rights at work. Feminism and the Servant Problem is the first ever history of how these militant maids and their mistresses joined forces in the struggle for the vote but also clashed over competing class interests. Laura Schwartz uncovers a forgotten history of domestic worker organising and early feminist thinking on reproductive labour, and offers a new perspective on the class politics of the suffrage movement, challenging traditional notions of who made up the British working-class.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781108471336
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 07/18/2019
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 6.38(w) x 9.26(h) x 0.69(d)

About the Author

Laura Schwartz is Associate Professor of Modern British History at the University of Warwick. She has published widely on the history of British feminism, and is the author of A Serious Endeavour: Gender Education and Community at St Hugh's, 1886-2011 (2011) and Infidel Feminism: Secularism, Religion and Women's Emancipation, England 1830-1914 (2013).

Table of Contents

List of figures; Acknowledgements; Introduction. Whose problem was the 'servant problem'?; 1. The 'servant problem' and the suffrage home; 2. Servants in the suffrage movement; 3. The housework problem; 4. Domestic labour and the feminist work ethic; 5. The domestic workers' union of Great Britain and Ireland; 6. Servants and co-operative housekeeping; Conclusion; Index.

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