Kate Home And Work : Housework, Wages, And The Ideology Of Labor

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Boydston, Jeanne. Home and Work: Housework, Wages, and the Ideology of Labor in the Early Republic. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990. Thesis: Boydston argues that women in Antebellum America, along with the society surrounding them, believed that there was little to no economic value to the work they did in the home (xii). Boydston in her text seeks understand the "the intimate relationship between the gender and labor systems that characterized industrializing America (xii). Themes: One of the main themes of the text is gender roles. According to Boydston, gender spheres were put into place in response to chaotic changes occurring in society (143). Work outside of the home (man 's work) was very seasonal and inconsistent and therefore a man 's "manhood" was always being challenged. Women were placed into their specific roles in order to offset that challenge to manhood, and when a women entered the wage-earning world (and worked for less than a man at that) she was challenging the manhood. Women also faced challenges to their roles as time went on. Household roles changed and women 's work became less valued over time, and with the rise of technological advances of the home, women had to adapt and revitalize their roles. Tied to the theme of gender roles is the theme of power. Men had the most power through their patriarchal roles, and when those were threatened, still established their superiority through the above mention gender roles/spheres where naturally placed them above women. Women had their ways of establishing their own power. As Ulrich points discusses and Boydston reiterates, a woman 's power is tied to her discreetness and anonymity (162). Evidentiary Base: Boydston utilizes over 150 primary sources that a... ... middle of paper ... ...es secondary sources. Because she is working with such a great length of time, the large number of sources on a whole makes sense. The fact that she has a lot of primary sources written by females is also a strength, because while she acknowledges that men wrote about women, she is able to get the female perspective as well. Weaknesses: Although she utilizes over 200 secondary sources, she seems to be reiterating Laurel Thatcher Ulrich a lot in her text. I may be biased in this statement because I have read the Ulrich monograph that she utilized so I was able to recognize a lot of Ulrich 's influence. Another weakness is getting the perspective of solely the middle-class woman, but that has mainly to do with the fact that middle-class women were the ones leaving behind journals and diaries and other texts because they were literate, unlike their poorer counterparts.

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