A Hidden Workforce: Homeworkers in England, 1850–1985 by Shelley Pennington

By Shelley Pennington

Homeworkers are typically ladies who paintings of their personal houses for an out of doors organisation and are paid on a one-piece foundation. The paintings is mostly unskilled and of a run of the mill and repetitive nature. the commercial prestige of the homeworker has little or not anything in universal with the self sufficient craftsman operating in his own residence ahead of the onset of industrialization; homeworkers paintings with no supervision and feature no actual touch with their employers or sub-contractors other than whilst gathering or returning paintings. This quantity is an research of the commercial and social place of the predominantly girl labour strength of the homework industries from 1850 to 1985. The textual content examines alterations that experience happened within the composition of the labour strength, the choices open to ladies and the kinds and geographical situation of homework. The authors significantly evaluation makes an attempt to enhance the location of homeworkers and touch upon the customers for homeworking sooner or later.

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It was monotonous and repetitive work labelled as unskilled women's work and carrying a very low status. The spinners were unorganised and completely at the mercy of their employers. Under the domestic system of manufacture. employers usually gave out the raw materials but the workers owned their own machines. The system differed from the preceding guild system where the workers were independent producers owning their own raw materials and their own machines. The whole relationship between employer and employee was transformed under the domestic system.

4 47 5 Mattress stutTing 1890 (National Museum of Labour History) 48 Types of homework 49 By the second half of the nineteenth century prospects for female employment in rural areas were even graver than in the towns. A certain amount of casual work in the fields, particular at harvest times, was available, but this did not provide a regular source of income. Homework was, therefore, eagerly sought by women in the country areas. Single women and country girls had little option other than to leave their homes and enter residential domestic service.

In 1901 there were 16000 more females than males in Nottingham. Lace and hosiery were the two major industries and employed female labour both inside and outside the factories. Certain processes required factory conditions and a predominantly female labour force was instrumental here in keeping labour costs down. At the same time, many processes - for example, those involved in 'finishing' - could easily be given out to the large numbers of women preferring to work in their own homes, thus keeping labour costs to a minimum.

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