Taking work home: Labour dynamics of women industrial homeworkers in Sweden during the second industrial revolution
The papers in this dissertation explore women’s labour market decisions in the context of an industrializing economy by focusing on female industrial homeworkers in Sweden during the second industrial revolution. Three different datasets were compiled for these studies: one cross-sectional, individual-level dataset based on survey data from interviews conducted with a large number of individual industrial homeworkers in 1911; one longitu- dinal, individuallevel panel dataset based on poll tax records; and one dataset comprising qualitative data based on contemporary texts. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to analyse the data. The dissertation consists of an introduction, four research papers and a description of the compilation of the first two datasets. Paper 1 investigates how the birth of a first child affected the timing of the transition into industrial homework for the individuals. The main result was that having a first child significantly increased an individual’s propensity to start industrial homework, both in the urban and rural contexts. Paper 2 identifies life-course patterns of paid work for industrial homeworkers and explores how marital status affected the trajectories in and out of industrial homework. The results showed that for most women, industrial homework was part of a continuous occupational trajectory and few experienced any occupational mobility during the tran- sition to or from industrial homework. The focus of paper 3 is seasonal variations in hours worked and how seasonal variation can be explained. The main finding was instead a general lack of seasonal variation in hours worked, in both the urban and rural samples. Most women worked surprisingly consistent hours year-round, despite often being described as highly flexible and seasonal workers. There was however some seasonal variation found in hours worked and this was mainly related to differences in products made. Paper 4 explores the theory of “housewifization” and whether industrial homeworkers were marginalized and unprotected in the labour market because they were considered to be housewives working for pin money. Industrial homeworkers were not found to be described as housewives or working for pin money in the public debate in early 20th century Sweden. Nor were they housewives – most of them contributed significantly to the household income and the majority of industrial homeworkers were heads of their own households. This dissertation provides new individual-level evidence of the labour market decisions made by an important but little studied segment of the labour market: industrial homeworkers. By combining quantitative and qualitative methods with data from unconventional sources, it tells us about the conditions of homeworkers as individuals, as parts of families and households, and as a group in the labour market.
Doctor of Philosophy
Göteborgs universitet. Handelshögskolan
Department of Economy and Society ; Institutionen för ekonomi och samhälle
Fredagen den 27 mars 2015, kl. 10.15, hörsal Sappören, Sprängkullsgatan 25
Date of defence