This is a study of working women in Scotland in the period 1850-1914. In a detailed scholarly analysis, based on a wide range of contemporary sources, Eleanor Gordon uncovers the patterns of their employment, their involvement in and relationship to trades unionism, and the forms of their workplace resistance and struggles. Focusing particularly on women working in Dundee's jute industry, Dr Gordon's study integrates labour history and the history of gender. It is a stimulating and thorough account, which challenges many assumptions about the organizational apathy of women workers and about the inevitable division between workplace and domestic ideologies. It makes an important contribution to current historiographical debates over the sexual division of labour, working-class consciousness, and domestic ideologies, and to the history of women in Scotland.
`Eleanor Gordon's book is a significant work ... Gordon's overview of the trade union movement is in fact a preamble to a fascinating assessment of militancy among women workers. ... thoroughly researched, soundly argued, and full of theoretically informed insights ... this is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the history of women and labor protest. Indeed, it will take its place as one of the groundbreaking new studies that demonstrate the
imperative for feminist theory to be intergrated into labor history.
Albion, Summer 1993
`an important contribution to current historiographical debates over the sexual division of labour, working class consciousness and domestic ideologies and to the history of women in Scotland
Studies on Women Abstracts, Volume 10, Number 1, 1992
` ... pioneering and well researched book ... This is an excellent and subtle exploration of a world almost untouched by conventional labour history. Eleanor Gordon's research has been wide and deep. ...This a thought-provoking and important book. It will surely be the first of many forays in the field by the author.
T.C. Smout, Scottish Labour History Society Journal
`Gordon's study challenges the stereotype of the subordinate, passive, backward woman worker'
Jane McDermid, Journal of Women's History, Vol 4 No 2 (FALL)
W. Hamish Fraser, University of Strathclyde, The Economic History Review, Volume XLVI, No. 2, May 1993
`Labor history and the history of women, each a fruitful area of academic enquiry in its own right, have seldom been so well integrated as in this study of working women in Scotland ... well written. The conclusions are soundly based on examination of a variety of sources and on arguments that are both logical and sensible.
Janey Fyfe, University of Western Ontario, American Historical Review, April 1993
`This is a useful and thought-provoking book ... her argument is important and convincing.
Jonathan Schneer, Georgia Tech, Labor History
`With this study another gap in the history of Scottish labor has been bridged ... a valuable contribution to labor history.
F. Darrell, Munsell, The Historian, Vol. 55, No. 4, Summer '93
`important work ... In her analysis of women workers' involvement in and relationship to trade unionism Gordon makes a significant contribution to current debates ... the work succeeds as a coherent entity, rich in detail and strong on explanatory power. Its analysis of the formation of labour relations and of the nature and meanings of women's industrial struggles invites international comparisons.
Rosalind McClean, Victoria University of Wellington, Gender and History, 1994
`One of the startling results of Eleanor Gordon's research is that, far from being passive in the work place, women in Scotland, especially in the textile industries, were vigorous in their pursuit of wage and other claims.'
EHR, Nov 1994