Gender, labor, and globalization in historical perspective: European spinsters in the international textile industry, 1750-1900

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Abstract

Current debates about globalization often treat it as a late-twentieth-century phenomenon. But many of the characteristics of the contemporary global economy are continuations of older trends: accelerating substitution of globally marketed products for local products, the rapid growth of the labor force producing goods and services for the international market, and the complex mediation of local and regional economic conditions within global power relations. One of the most significant aspects of globalization from a feminist point of view is its disruption of local gender divisions of labor and its impact on women's wage labor. The history of Europe's spinning industry as it moved from cottage to factory between 1750 and 1900 puts a new spin (so to speak) on accounts of globalization and gender. Europe's early industrial capitalist development brought regions of Europe into and out of production for globalizing markets through selective investment and disinvestments. Then, as now, women's work, and in particular the work of young women, played a key role in the region's "economic development."

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-66+232
JournalJournal of women's history
Volume15
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004

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