Work and Unemployment 1834-1911
This volume includes primary sources that identify "The Long History Toil," which demonstrate that vagrancy and idleness went against constructions of the English, then British, character. While the state as early as Tudor times made provision to assist unemployed persons, in order to receive assistance, the unemployed (and particularly men) had to physically labor for that help. The section "Work, Class, and Identity," continues this theme with different types of sources, examining some classic texts that defined the meanings of work for Victorians, such as Thomas Carlyle’s essay where he talks about the "Gospel of Work," and Samuel Smiles’s "Self Help." The section will also include some more obscure writings that explain how poor people thought about work in comparison to these more elite texts. The first two sections in this volume firmly establish the work imperative as fundamental to understandings of work and unemployment. "Men’s Work and Women’s Work" will explore the gendered nature of work and the ways the moral considerations attached to work applied differently to men and women. Women, because their primary role in the era was reproductive, had a different relationship to paid employment. Unpaid employment in the home was also expected of women in ways that it was not for men, and paid employment was never core to feminine identity for women like it was to masculine identity for men.
- 2021 selection and editorial matter, Marjorie Levine-Clark
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