Women, the family economy and homework: North-West England, 1900-1970

Roberts, Elizabeth
December 1991
Labour History Review (Maney Publishing);Winter91, Vol. 56 Issue 3, p16
Academic Journal
The article focuses on the changing role of working-class married women in the domestic economy in the period between 1900 and 1970. In the earlier part of the century, working-class women had considerable power vis-a-vis their own family economy. This power needs to be set in the context of the very real poverty experienced by so many respondents. Married women's powerful position in the family economy came from more than one source. Most importantly they were the controllers of the family budget, deciding on all family purchases including important decisions about housing. Balancing what were very small budgets required considerable managing abilities and also skills for making something out of nothing. Women's skills in household management were greatly valued and prized among working-class people even if they were so often ignored by outside observers. In view of the generally low wages earned by working-class men, especially the unskilled, married women had often to earn money on their own account to supplement the family income.


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