Women’s work, 1840-1940 by Elizabeth Roberts

I have read this book as part of my Master’s course.

Synopsis:

This volume addresses some of the difficult issues surrounding women’s work during a century of social upheaval, and demonstrates how hard it is to be precise about the nature and extent of women’s occupations. It focuses on working-class women and the many problems relating to their work, full-time and part-time, paid and unpaid, outside and inside the home. Elizabeth Roberts examines men’s attitudes to women’s work, the difficulties of census enumeration and women’s connections with trade unions. She also tackles in depth other areas of contention such as the effects of legislation on women’s work, a ‘family wage’, and unequal pay and status. Dr Roberts’ study provides a unique overview of an expanding field of social and economic history, while her survey of the available literature is a useful guide to further reading.

I found this a gem of a book. It is only 70 pages long which I was able to read in a couple of hours. It is full of information and it takes a different view of women in this period. There is not a feminist feel or take of this period of history which is rather unusual and is a great tool for historical comparisons. This book is very easy to dip in and out of, easy to follow and understand and the content is very interesting and informative.

9/10

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Unemployed Struggles by Wal Hannington

This book is the memoirs of Wal Hannington from the 1930s. This is the decade remembered for mass unemployment, the decline of the staple industries, the removal of slum housing and the depression. It was an interesting book to read as a primary source for studying the 1930s, however Hannington himself annoyed me. We read about how he was Communist, and was imprisoned for that; how he was an active member of the National Unemployed Workers Movement – and the many clashes with the police he had and all the campaigns he was involved in. It was an interesting read as we don’t hear about him out looking for work, instead we read about him campaigning for better pay for employers, attempting to get trade unions on his side, his problems with the government and the benefits he is on and his general dissatisfaction with the “capitalist government” leadership. Although a very interesting point of view, it was these things about him that annoyed me. I just wanted to tell him to stop moaning and go get a job!! This book was a good historical source, but one must remember Hannington’s bias when reading it.

7/10

Thank God It’s Monday by Mark Greene

This is a Christian book about work. Greene raises issues for both the employer and the employee. It is not a long book, only 159 pages and is fast-paced. It did not take me long to read it. Greene talks about how we are around colleagues and our boss. He explains how power and authority is God-given, but the choices made are not from God. He made me think how I relate to the people I work with, how much I know about them and care about them, and how well I work. Employment is something we all have to experience, and this is a good little book which will help me be more positive and shine in the workplace. If you are struggling at work it may be worth reading this gem as it will refocus your thinking and maybe help with your grievances.

8/10