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Families, Relationships and Home Life

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Part of the Social History in Perspective book series (SHP)

Abstract

The second half of the nineteenth century has been portrayed as a time when the working classes, now benefiting from a rise in real wages, became assimilated and reconciled to the society of industrial capitalism. Gareth Stedman Jones has argued that working-class culture became increasingly conservative and ‘respectable’. The majority of working-class marriages were now legal unions; and, as traditions of artisan radicalism began to decline, so too did the heavy drinking which had characterised earlier plebeian life. Such pastimes as cockfighting and bearbaiting began to die out as working-class leisure interests centred upon sports like football, and upon institutions such as the music hall. A new consumerism began to seepinto the lives of the working-class, as they began to enjoy fish and chips, seaside excursions and cheap, imported foodstuffs from the colonies. According to Stedman Jones, the focus of working-class culture switched from the workplace to the home, a process which was facilitated by the advent of shorter working days (typically nine-hour days, and a half day’s holiday on Saturday).1

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Gareth Stedman Jones, ‘Working-Class Culture and Working-Class Politics in London, 1870–1900: Notes on the Remaking of a Working Class’, in Gareth Stedman Jones, Languages of Class: Studies in English Working Class History 1832–1982 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 179–238.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
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  25. 24.
    Quoted in Davies, Maternity, p. 23. See also Laura Oren, ‘The Welfare of Women in Laboring Families in England, 1860–1950’, in Mary S. Hartman and Lois Banner (eds), Clio’s Consciousness Raised: New Perspectives on the History of Women (London: Harper and Row, 1974), pp. 226–44.Google Scholar
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  30. 33.
    Rickie Burman, ’“She Looketh Well to the Ways of Her Household”: The Changing Role of Jewish Women in Religious Life, c. 1880–1930’, in Gail Malmgreen (ed.), Religion in the Lives of English Women, 1760–1930 (London and Sydney: Croom Helm, 1986), pp. 234–59.Google Scholar
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  32. 35.
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  34. 40.
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  35. 41.
    An interesting discussion of marital conflict may be found in Joanna Bourke, ‘Housewifery in Working-Class England 1860–1914’, Past and Present, 43 (1994), pp. 188–96.Google Scholar
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    Shani D’Cruze, Crimes of Outrage: Sex, Violence and Victorian Working Women (London: UCL, 1998), p. 68.Google Scholar
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  38. 47.
    Gail Savage, ’“The Wilful Communication of a Loathsome Disease”: Marital Conflict and Venereal Disease in Victorian England’, Victorian Studies, 34 (1990), pp. 44–5;Google Scholar
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  40. 51.
    Eve Hostettler, ’“Making Do”: Domestic Life Among East Anglian Labourers, 1890–1910’, in Leonore Davidoff and Belinda Westover (eds), Our Work, Our Lives, Our Worlds: Women’s History and Women’s Work (Basingstoke: Macmillan–now Palgrave, 1986), pp. 37–8.Google Scholar
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    See, for example, Karl Ittman, Work, Gender and Family in Victorian England (Basingstoke: Macmillan - now Palgrave, 1995).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 57.
    Similar conclusions have been drawn for the period 1900–39. Diana Gittins, for example, in Fair Sex: Family Size and Structure, 1900–1939 (London: Hutchinson, 1982) notes that women’s relationship to the socio-economic system was a critical factor in birth control decisions.Google Scholar
  46. 63.
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  47. 65.
    The classic account of this movement is Anna Davin, ‘Imperialism and Motherhood’, History Workshop Journal, 5 (1978), pp. 9–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 66.
    Lara V. Marks, Model Mothers: Jewish Mothers and Maternity Provision in East London, 1870–1939 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994).Google Scholar
  49. 68.
    Linda Mahood, ‘Family Ties: Lady Child-Savers and Girls of the Street 1850–1925’, in Esther Breitenbach and Eleanor Gordon (eds), Out of Bounds: Women in Scottish Society 1800–1945 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1992), p. 55.Google Scholar
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  51. 72.
    Jane Lewis, The Politics of Motherhood. Child and Maternal Welfare in England 1900–1939 (London: Croom Helm, 1980), ch. 2.Google Scholar

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© Kathryn Gleadle 2001

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