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Women's Work, Markets and Economic Development in Nineteenth-Century Ontario

Women's Work, Markets and Economic Development in Nineteenth-Century Ontario

Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 258
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  • Book Info
    Women's Work, Markets and Economic Development in Nineteenth-Century Ontario
    Book Description:

    Cohen focuses on the productive relations in the family and the significance of women?s labour to the process of capital accumulation in both the capitalist sphere and independent commodity production.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-5752-6
    Subjects: Economics, Sociology, History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xi)
  5. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  6. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-13)

    For some time feminist scholars have argued that any analysis of society is incomplete if women’s participation is ignored. The ideas and assumptions on which theories about society and social change were developed are usually assumed to pertain to the human experience in general, but on closer examination their androcentric bias has become obvious. Traditional academic disciplines not only have had difficulty ‛seeing’ women, but also have had a distorted view of social mechanisms in general because of their exclusive perspectives. Including women in our analysis of society, then, involves more than simply finding out how women ‛fit in,’ for...

  7. 2 Capitalist Development, Industrialization, and Women’s Work
    (pp. 14-28)

    Over time, the understanding of the effect of industrialization on women’s work, based primarily on the British experience, has undergone considerable change. It has shifted from a perspective which saw the process as one that would bring women’s work from the margins to the centre of productive activity, to one which sees industrialization as essentially restricting the nature of women’s work.

    The tendency in the nineteenth century was to see the impact of industrialization on women as a dramatic one which greatly changed the nature of the household and the nature of women’s work.¹ During industrialization, in particular the transformation...

  8. 3 Division of Labour in a Staple-Exporting Economy
    (pp. 29-58)

    Without exception, the important economic histories of preindustrial Canada focus on the labour of men while women’s labour remains virtually invisible. This preoccupation with male labour is symptomatic of the way historians have tended to ignore women in history.¹ It is also a result of a widespread undervaluation of female labour that derives from the preoccupation with market activity that dominates economic study.²

    Canadian economic historians have been most interested in how the exploitation of resources for export to European markets has affected the character of the economy. Canada’s attraction for Europe did not arise out of a need for...

  9. 4 Farm Women’s Labour in Ontario’s Staple-Exporting Economy: Early to Mid Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 59-92)

    This chapter examines the nature of female labour and its significance to both the family economy and the economic development of Ontario in the pre-industrial period. Since the family economy in the first half of the nineteenth century was rooted in agricultural production, the focus will be on women’s labour in this sphere. Women’s production was initially confined almost exclusively to meeting the immediate needs of the family. The imperatives of a pioneer economy, characterized by poor transportation, underdeveloped local markets, and an unstable staple-exporting market, made women’s subsistence-oriented labour crucial to the success of the agricultural unit.

    As the...

  10. 5 The Changing Conditions of Women in Dairying
    (pp. 93-117)

    This chapter, through a study of women’s labour in the dairy industry, examines the contradictions which arose in patriarchal productive relations as the economy developed. Initially, changing economic conditions considerably extended farm women’s production for the market in the pre-industrial period. However, ultimately, the nature of productive relations in the family limited the control women exercised over the process of accumulation. This development had important consequences for women’s labour as the production process became more capital-intensive. The dairy industry was selected for detailed study (rather than poultry-raising or market-gardening) for several reasons: it was an industry which was transformed to...

  11. 6 Women’s Paid Work and the Transition to Industrial Capitalism 1850–1911
    (pp. 118-151)

    The transition period during which women’s labour in Ontario moved from being devoted to providing goods and services for the family’s use to waged labour was exceedingly long. Only in the 1980s has a greater proportion of adult women worked in the labour force than remained within the household.¹ Nevertheless, the trend toward increased participation in market-oriented activities was clear from the mid-nineteenth century.

    As noted in the previous two chapters, expanded markets increased farm women’s production for sale. However, the development of more capital-intensive industries produced contradictions: while market conditions encouraged the growth of industries traditionally controlled by females,...

  12. 7 Conclusion
    (pp. 152-158)

    At the close of the nineteenth century the Reverend B.F. Austin edited a study of woman’s ‛worth and work.’ In the preface toWoman: Maiden, Wife and Mother, he indicated the rather commonly held perception that the century had witnessed extraordinary changes for women: ‛The century will pass into history particularly distinguished by the enlargement of women’s sphere and the multiplication of her advantage.’ Not only had women been brought into almost every field of human activity, but there had also been ‛an almost complete revolution in the ideas once entertained as to woman’s ability on one hand, and her...

  13. Appendix
    (pp. 159-170)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 171-218)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 219-246)
  16. Index
    (pp. 247-259)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 260-260)