| CLASS AND GENDER IN BRITISH LABOUR HISTORY|
Renewing the Debate (or starting it?)
Edited by Mary Davis
Politics constructs gender and gender constructs politics: this is a central theme in this collection of essays which seek not only to write a history that focus on women's experiences but seeks also to analyse those dynamic forces that have shaped that history.
It examines the 'making' of the other half of the working class - women - as workers, trade unionists and political activists, and seeks to weave together intricate relationship between class and gender, particular within the process of industrialization. It is because the class/gender relationship has often been either ignored or misunderstood that it has been possible to write general histories of the labour movement in which women are hardly mentioned.
It features contributions from leading and up-and-coming women labour historians, essays are in three sections:
the labour market/work (typical and atypical); trade unions; and politics.
While not presenting a chronological survey, it nonetheless (re)visits the terrain vacated by standard labour history. Each chapter is an original and analytical monograph in its own right, while at the same time reflecting an important aspect of the main theme of the book outlined above.
The book will be suitable both for the specialist and the generalist. The latter will find it a useful, albeit provocative antidote to the almost ubiquitous (male) gendered and authored labour histories. The editor provides a thematic text linking the parts into a coherent whole.
It is important for all of us, women and men alike, to understand the full potential of working women both to challenge present conditions and shape the future. If this is to happen, reclaiming the past has a very big part to play and this book makes an important contribution. Hopefully it will inspire others to undertake further research and publication which will attract wide readership and debate. Morning Star
"This collection is a counterbalance to some more general histories of the labour movement in which women are hardly mentioned". Labour Research
'These essays certainly renew, or restart, the debate about gender in labour history, opening up, sometimes tantalizingly, avenues of research which demand to be taken further' Labour History Review.
'I found it an enjoyable and very interesting read. It enlightened me on my own position as a worker, trade unionist and political activist, and on the impact of the historic sidelining of women on my own perception of class identity. A must read for all those interested in labour and women's history, women's liberation and the class struggle' Feminist Library Newsletter.
Contents: Glossary. Section 1, Introduction and theoretical framework: Mary Davis, Introduction; Mary Davis, The Making of the English Working Class re- visited: Labour History and Marxist Theory. Section 2, Women & Work: Sian Moore, Gender & Class Consciousness in Industrialisation- the Bradford Woollen Industry; Katrina Honeyman, Sweat and sweating- Women Workers and Trade Unions in the Leeds Clothing Trade 1880-1980; Sheila Blackburn, 'The Inspector Can Check a Workroom is Insanitary by Means of His Own Eyes and Nose'- Re-Thinking the Sweatshop in Victorian and Edwardian Britain; Linda Clarke & Christine Wall, Skilled versus Qualified Labour; Skilled Versus Qualified Labour- the Exclusion of Women from the Construction Industry; Caroline Bressey, Black women and Work in England 1880 - 1920; Louise Raw, Striking a Light- Bryant & May Revisited; Catherine Hunt, The Fragility of the Union- the work of the National Federation of Women Workers in the Regions of Britain 1906-1914; Section 3, Women and Politics: Sheila Rowbotham, Alice Wheeldon Revisited; Annemarie Hughes, Socialist Women in the Inter-War Years.
Mary Davis was until August 2009 Professor of Labour History at London Metropolitan University where she was, for many years, head of the Centre for Trade Union Studies and the Deputy Director of the Working Lives Research Institute. She has written, broadcast and lectured widely on women's history, labour history, imperialism and racism
Paperback 240 pages
Published March 2011