Jeudi 8 décembre 2022 à 17h (salle D421 à Serpente) :
Jane Humphries (Oxford / LSE ), ‘“The best job in the world”: breadwinning and the capture of household labour in 19th and early 20th-century British coal mining’
This paper, written with Ryah Thomas, explores the effects of gender inequality and women’s disempowerment in the context of historical coalmining. Across the US and Europe, ex-coalmining regions are characterized by significant deprivation. While there are many reasons for persistent problems, this study focuses on the restrictions imposed on women’s involvement in economic life. Families in mining communities exemplified the male breadwinner structure, in which men’s earnings supported wives and children who provided domestic services in return. This article, however, exposes a different reality of household economics and relations of dominance and subordination: All family members were integrated into the coalmining production process and the creation of profit. Women’s unpaid work did not simply provide domestic comfort; it transferred well-being from women and children to men and simultaneously contributed to the colliery companies’ profits. These findings revise accounts of mining families while providing insight into the intransigence of deprivation in ex-coalmining areas.