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.
"[A] brilliant historical work...elegant and accessible...; it is sure to become standard reading in many women's studies classes, but it ought to be read by everyone."--The Women's Review of Books "Should attract serious excitement in the field....The book is very well written and will make an excellent text for students....I can imagine adopting it for a Western civilization class, a women's history survey, or a nineteenth-century European history survey."--Bonnie Smith, Rutgers University "This book is to be welcomed as a brave contribution to the study of a complex subject." -- The Times Higher Education Supplement "[The book] is beautifully written and uses a dazzling range of sources. Even serious scholars of this topic will find something new in the bibliography."--Business History Review "...her book will take a key place in the crucial debates defining women's role in modern industrialization. This valuable contribution to the history of technology and economic development is a model for future studies to explain the far-reaching effects of technological change."--Technology and Culture
Number Of Pages: 272
Published: 30th March 1995
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.42 x 15.55 x 1.85
Weight (kg): 0.38