Labour History Review

Between the Devil of Cheap Labour Competition and the Deep Sea of Family Poverty?' Sweated Labour in Time and Place, 1840–1914

Labour History Review (2006), 71, (2), 99–121.

Abstract

When seeking to explain the intractability of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sweating, historians have emphasized women homeworkers' disadvantaged industrial position and sexual discrimination. Yet, if sweating is equated with low pay, both males and females were victims. Poorly waged work is produced and reproduced through social and economic geographies and house-hold poverty. A class-gender perspective exposes the procedures whereby the employment of wives and daughters was frequently exploited by employers seeking competitive labour market advantage. Future research needs to focus on the complexities and diversity of local labour markets, and the specificities of place in the construction of sweating. Only when sweating is viewed in the wider ambit of the interconnectedness of home, community and workplace can its true nature and extent be revealed.

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Author details

Blackburn, Sheila