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 outdoor business enterprise and are paid on a one-piece foundation. The paintings is generally unskilled and of an uneventful and repetitive nature. the commercial prestige of the homeworker has little or not anything in universal with the self reliant 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 amassing 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 girls and the categories and geographical situation of homework. The authors seriously overview makes an attempt to enhance the placement of homeworkers and touch upon the clients for homeworking sooner or later.

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Additional resources for A Hidden Workforce: Homeworkers in England, 1850–1985

Sample text

The worker also had to sell his or her labour power. The medieval guilds had prohibited journeymen from taking work home and from working for more than one master. This was to protect their status and bargaining position and to guard 30 Homework and economic change, 1850-1914 31 against journeymen becoming 'mere outworkers'. With the collapse of the guild system, outwork became the generalised form of production. A transition from one system of production to another is obviously gradual and subject to an unevenness in development, so different systems of production often co-exist.

It was a time in which, despite the movement towards concentration of production in factories and the growth of large firms, there was also an increase in production based on smaller economic units. The Homework and economic change, 1850-1914 33 Industrial Revolution was a force that led not only to centralisation of production but also in certain areas of the economy, to a greater fragmentation of production. As D. S. Landes argues in his study of technological change and industrial development in Western Europe,the very forces that promoted industrial and commercial giantism opened up a new possibilities for small ventures; service enterprises, distribution agencies, sub-contractors and so on.

Of course, not all home workers are unskilled. For example, embroidery, knitting and lace work can be very skilled work when done by hand. However, these workers cannot produce on the same scale of factory production and the possibility for expansion is limited. 4 Types of homework This chapter looks at the places where homework was carried out during the period 1850-1914. It looks at those factors influencing the supply and demand for homework labour in specific areas of the country. It also looks in detail at the work processes involved in some of the most important of the nineteenth-century home industries (see the map opposite).

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