Thursday 13 April 2023
11.00 - 13.00
Housewives or Workers? Domestic Work and Care Work (16th-20th Centuries) II
Francesca Ferrando :
A School for Wives? Education, Domestic Work and Care Work in the Genoese Hospitals (1600- 1700)
Family and Demography
Beatrice Zucca Micheletto
Celine Mutos Xicola, Beatrice Zucca Micheletto
Celine Mutos Xicola
In recent years, historians have pointed out that in early modern age hospitals and welfare institutions operated as artificial families for the poor they helped (Garbellotti, Terpstra). In their acts they used a lexicon derived from the family one to indicate the institution (house), the governors (fathers) and the poor ... (Show more)
In recent years, historians have pointed out that in early modern age hospitals and welfare institutions operated as artificial families for the poor they helped (Garbellotti, Terpstra). In their acts they used a lexicon derived from the family one to indicate the institution (house), the governors (fathers) and the poor (sons/daughters). As an householder, the institution had the duty to nurture, protect and educate its inmates. In this context girls and women were raised to become good housewives: they learnt domestic works, like cooking, sewing and sweeping, and they took care of the younger girls.
This type of training provided a dual advantage to welfare institutions. First of all it raised girls who were attractive for the marriage market, which allowed to relieve the institution of a mouth to feed. Secondly, it guaranteed the institution a constant free labor force.
This paper aimed to deal these topic through the study of two welfare institutions of the Republic of Genoa: the hospital of Pammatone and the Albergo dei poveri. Both these institutions had female quarters and experimented proper training paths. Hospital of Pammatone (1419) had a wing used as a brefotrofio and ran a women’s shelter where girls were raised to become housewives and careworkers for the Hospital. The Albergo dei poveri (1656), instead, was built to educate beggars and any other deviant figure through work in manufactures settled inside it.
By analyzing rules, instructions and other organizing acts of these institutions it is possible to show how women and girls were educated and what jobs they were doing for the institutions, while the analysis of the institution accounting will allow to understand if and how these jobs were paid. (Show less)
Phil Lyon :
The Efficient Housewife: Kitchen Narratives from 1920s’ British Newspapers
Domestic kitchens went through a period of great innovation one hundred years ago. Some sections of British society started to take an interest in a space that had been largely disregarded since it was the domain of household staff. The ‘servant problem’ and the growth of suburban house building were ... (Show more)
Domestic kitchens went through a period of great innovation one hundred years ago. Some sections of British society started to take an interest in a space that had been largely disregarded since it was the domain of household staff. The ‘servant problem’ and the growth of suburban house building were factors underpinning this changed perspective. A body of literature emerged to encourage women’s positive engagement with these new circumstances. Female writers produced a narrative of efficiency to echo that of Scientific Management, then a fashionable way of thinking about task organisation for the industrial workplace. Accordingly, the housewife was to excel by her efficient use of resources: she was to become a manager in the domestic domain, an expert in what were to be the technical processes cleaning, cooking and laundry. The language of efficiency was also to be found in articles about the kitchen and its equipment for the emergent ‘women’s page’ now featuring in many 1920s’ newspapers. Advertisements for cookers, storage solutions and electrical equipment referenced cleanliness, economy and convenience as proxies for efficiency.
By reference to period literature and content drawn from British newspaper archives, the nature of these domestic changes can be demonstrated in some detail. Newspapers, being widely read at the time, provide an indication of the scale and diffusion of this discourse.
Manufacturers and retailers were able to advertise a wide range of new products for this domestic space, and newspaper columnists explained to housewives how unfamiliar items were to be used. It was a notable period of innovation. However, in this narrative there is a paradox, housewives were simultaneously championed as technical experts yet find their traditional domestic role endorsed. Moreover, there were substantial discontinuities between this technical imagery of the new housewife and the daily experiences of many women – even those with agency. Design progress for British kitchens was piecemeal and conflicted by fuel-choice issues as well as the question of how to equip the space for personal use. At best, the 1920s’ focus on kitchens as workplaces produced design ideas and gadgetry to mitigate the loss of domestic servants. At worst, poor households progressed little unless they were able to materially benefit from municipal rehousing. Ideas that survived this period of innovation were to form the basis of domestic work development in subsequent decades. (Show less)
Charmian Mansell :
The Labour of Care in England, 1550-1700
Care work, both today and in the past, occupies a shadowy zone of the economy. Uncertainty about whether to define care as ‘work’ when unremunerated or performed by a neighbour or family member has led to it being swept up into a wider category of obligation, charity and mutual ... (Show more)
Care work, both today and in the past, occupies a shadowy zone of the economy. Uncertainty about whether to define care as ‘work’ when unremunerated or performed by a neighbour or family member has led to it being swept up into a wider category of obligation, charity and mutual dependency. When unpaid, care is a form of labour which cannot easily be quantified, tabulated or computed and is therefore regularly omitted from analyses. Furthermore, evidence of care work in the past is overlooked as economic historians adopt a narrow definition of what constitutes work, privileging paid work over unpaid work. Care work in all its forms – including tending the sick and childcare – is therefore rarely accounted for in studies of pre-industrial economies.
Consequently, beyond acknowledging it to have been a form of work predominantly undertaken by women, we know little about the complex care economy of early modern England and how it operated, particularly among the lower levels of society. What constituted care? How was the labour of care distributed across society and between genders? Who was paid and who wasn’t? What were the social relationships and obligations of care?
This paper casts its gaze to the labour of care of the terminally sick, recorded in testamentary disputes that found their way into the English ecclesiastical courts between 1550 and 1700. While these disputes are ostensibly about probate, inheritance and the validity of wills made by the deceased, the labour of care is often at their heart. By reconstructing from the records of these cases both the physical and emotional labour of care that took place in the sickchamber and around the sickbed, the paper argues that care for the sick was widely acknowledged by actors in these disputes (plaintiffs, defendants and witnesses) as labour and a value of labour productivity clearly attached to them. It explores the types of labour performed, ways in which it was remunerated or economically recognised, and who undertook such labour. The paper demonstrates that testamentary disputes offer a new and unique window into looking at care work in the final stages of life. (Show less)
Manuela Martini, Céline Mutos-Xicola :
Domestic Work in the Urban Textile Workhop. A Comparative Perspective between Lyons and Catalunya (1830-1860)
A large body of historical research has recently shown that in the middle of the 19th century in Western and Southern Europe the industrial growth combined the concentration of labour and capital in large factories and the production carried out by domestic workshops. The latter, far from ... (Show more)
A large body of historical research has recently shown that in the middle of the 19th century in Western and Southern Europe the industrial growth combined the concentration of labour and capital in large factories and the production carried out by domestic workshops. The latter, far from disappearing, adapted to a new industrial reality. This paper proposes to observe this particular productive pattern and its specificities in two geographical areas, Catalunya and the Lyons’ district, where textile trades where at the heart of the first industrialisation growth. Its aim is to analyse the operation of the production modes developed in the home sphere and their interaction with other manufacturing structures. In doing so, the paper deals first of all with the development of house-based activities and analyses the production steps across the manufacturing process that occur in urban contexts, highly specialised in particular types of textile production. In these urban spaces, workshops generally had a small number of looms and were carried on by individuals linked, or not, by blood ties but living under the same roof (family workers, apprentices, waged workers). They were usually led by a married couple, and carried on following a domestic economic strategy. The role of women within these home-based activities deserves particular attention. Using quantitative and qualitative sources, a second aim of this paper is to give some keys to estimate their contribution in terms of domestic care work incorporated in the workshop economics. Finally, the paper explores some hypotheses arising from the comparison between the Lyons district and Catalunya about the links beween women’s self-employment and homework in the textile sector in the mid-19th century. (Show less)
Tura Tusell Latorre :
Who Performed Domestic and Care Work in Charitable Institutions? Barcelona, 1815-1900
Charitable institutions were one of the spaces of care in modern societies where vulnerable people were attended and maintained. As such, they held an important role in the social organisation of care. By studying three charitable establishments in Barcelona (the Hospital of Santa Creu, the Charitable House and the Maternity ... (Show more)
Charitable institutions were one of the spaces of care in modern societies where vulnerable people were attended and maintained. As such, they held an important role in the social organisation of care. By studying three charitable establishments in Barcelona (the Hospital of Santa Creu, the Charitable House and the Maternity and Orphanage House) this paper aims to identify the collectives in charge of domestic and care work and analyse working conditions.
Each of these three institutions was designed for different types of vulnerable people. The Hospital of Santa Creu cared the sick and maniacs, while the Charitable House took in a more diverse group formed by young orphans, the handicapped, children of poor families, the eldery, and beggars. The Maternity and Orphanage House housed pregnant women and foundlings. Therefore, each collective determined the chores administered including nursing, breastfeeding, childcare, and a wide variety of basic domestic tasks such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. Each institution employed different types of labour. The use of the asylum workforce was always the first option and the hiring of waged workers the second. Religious congregations, which played an important role in the Catholic assistance system, must also be considered.
Different records, payment books, and minutes books of these three institutions will be investigated in order to analyse the different groups involved in domestic and care work. We will try to identify the chores performed by each collective, focusing on gender and class divisions. We will also try to determine the conditions under which this work was carried out, with a special attention to wages. Due to the existence of different types of labour relations (the religious performing charity work, waged domestic servants and the poor attended in these institutions), it is necessary to analyse the level of dependence and coercion that these workers might have experimented. Using the Taxonomy of Labour Relations , we will attempt to categorize these relations in order to understand the inequality that defined the performance of domestic and care work in them. (Show less)