Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

As the authors acknowledge, the effect which paid employment has on women and on the family is an old problem, but one which was still unresolved at the time they decided to write Women, Work, and Family. Some historians, such as Alice Clark, believed that industrial capitalism was responsible for the exclusion of women from paid employment, and thus played a crucial role in modern women’s oppression. Others, including Ivy Pinchbeck, insisted that the Industrial Revolution increased women’s employment opportunities and therefore was a liberating factor. Louise A. Tilly and Joan W. Scott seek to resolve this dispute by examining the impact of industrialization on female employment and on the family in Great Britain and France between 1700 and 1950.

Women, Work, and Family is divided into three parts. Part 1 examines the family economy in early modern France and Great Britain. Part 2 considers the family economy during the Industrial Revolution in those two countries. The third part traces the development of what Tilly and Scott call the family consumer economy in the period after the Industrial Revolution. Each part examines the nature of women’s work, the demographic forces shaping women’s lives, and the relationship between women’s paid labor and women’s position in the family. Twenty-four pages of notes and a nine-page bibliography enable the reader to evaluate the sources used by the authors and provide a useful guide for...

(The entire section is 480 words.)