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Seminar 4

Seminar 4: The Economics of the Family

During the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries the ideal of father as breadwinner has dominated understandings of the family economy. However, in reality, many families relied on all members of the family contributing to the family economy and they did so in various ways. Women and children contributed to the family income through their labour both inside and outside the home, with traditional means such as growing vegetables, taking in laundry and domestic service both continuing and being augmented by the increasing opportunities for paid labour.

Seminar/Essay Questions:
  1. How did the family adapt to industrialisation?
  2. In what ways have the different members of the family contributed to the family economy during the 20th century?
  3. Is the family a social or economic unit?
Seminar Reading T. Alborn, ‘Senses of Belonging: The Politics of Working-Class Insurance in Britain, 1880-1914’ Journal of Modern History 73 (2001) 561-602. S. Alexander, ‘Women’s work in Nineteenth Century London’ in S. Alexander, Becoming a Woman (1995) 3-56. C. Creighton, ‘The rise and decline of the ‘male breadwinner family’ in Britain’ Cambridge Journal of Economics 23 (1999) 519-541.
B. Reay, ‘Kinship and the neighbourhood in nineteenth-century rural England’, Journal of Family History 21 (1996) 87-104. P. Thompson, The Edwardians (1975) 21-42. Additional Reading: M. Anderson, Family Structure in Nineteenth Century Lancashire (1971). J. Bourke, Working-Class Cultures in Britain 1890-1960 (1994). C. Chinn, They Worked All Their Lives: Women of the Urban Poor 1880-1939 (1988)

L. Davidoff, ‘The Separation of Home and Work: Landladies and Lodgers in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century England’ in S. Burman, Fit Work for Women (1979) 64-97.

N. Dennis, F. Henriques and C. Slaughter, Coal is Our Life: An Analysis of a Yorkshire Mining Community (1969). M. Finn, The Character of Credit: Personal Debt in English Culture, 1740-1914 (2003) D. Graham, ‘Female Employment and Infant Mortality: Some Evidence from British Towns, 1911, 1931 and 1951’ Continuity and Change 9 (1994). A. Howkins, The Death of Rural England: A Social History of the Countryside since 1900 (2003). P. Johnson, Saving and Spending: The Working Class Economy in Britain 1870-1939 (1985). C. Langhamer, ‘The Meanings of Home in Postwar Britain’ Journal of Contemporary History (2005). S. Meacham, A Life Apart: The English Working Class, 1890-1914 (1977). R. Millward & F.N. Bell, ‘Economic Factors in the Decline of Mortality in Late Nineteenth Century Britain’ European Review of Economic History 2 (1998). M. Pember Reeves, Round About a Pound a Week (1913). E. Roberts, Women’s Work 1840-1940 (1988). R. Roberts, The Classic Slum (1971). B.S. Rowntree, Poverty: A Study of Town Life (1899). W. Secombe, ‘The Housewife and Her Labour under Capitalism’ New Left Review 83 (1974) 3-24. M. Segalen. ‘Kin relationships in urban society’ Historical Anthropology of the Family (1986). L. Spencer and R. Pahl, Rethinking Friendship: Hidden Solidarities Today (2006). S. Todd, Young Women, Work, and Family in England 1918-1950 (2005). F. Trentmann, ‘Beyond Consumerism: New Historical Perspectives on Consumption’ Journal of Contemporary History 39 (2004) D. Vincent, Poor Citizens: The State and the Poor in Twentieth-Century Britain (1991). R. Wall, ‘Work, Welfare and the Family: An Illustration of the Adaptive Family Economy’ in L. Bonfield, R. Smith and K. Wrightson (eds.), The World We Have Gained (1986) 260-294. D.S. Wilson, ‘A New Look at the Affluent Worker: The Good Working Mother in Post-War Britain’ Twentieth Century British History (2006).