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The feminisation of clerical work 1870-1914

By Stephen David McKenna

Abstract

The following thesis has five main objectives: -\ud 1. To describe the role and position of women in clerical work in the\ud period circa 1870 to 1914.\ud 2. To understand the origins of the role and position of women in\ud clerical work hierarchies and to offer reasons for this role and\ud position.\ud 3. To use and link theoretical perspectives which are useful in\ud helping us to understand the origins of the role and position of\ud women in clerical work.\ud 4. To consider the impact of wider social structure upon the roles\ud and position of women in clerical work.\ud 5. To develop an overall framework for understanding the role and\ud position of women in society and in work.\ud These objectives will now be briefly expanded.\ud 1. To describe the role and position of women in clerical work in the\ud period circa 1870 to 1914.\ud Throughout the thesis considerable space is given to describing the\ud actual work, status and market situations of female clerks. This\ud descriptive element is the background against which the theoretical\ud framework is developed and tested. It also offers us some\ud appreciation of what work was actually like for female clerks in\ud the 1870 to 1914 period, and allows us to compare their conditions\ud with late twentieth century clerks.\ud 2. To understand the origins of the role and position of women, in\ud clerical work hierarchies and to offer reasons for this role and\ud position\ud The thesis seeks to investigate the historical process through which\ud females entered clerical work over the period 1870 to 1914. It seeks to\ud assess the role of economic environment in drawing women into clerical\ud work, and the changing 'status' of those women who become clerks. The\ud thesis notes the 'status' of clerical work in the 1870-1914 period\ud and how the perception of such work was changing.\ud 3. To utilise and link theoretical perspectives which are useful in\ud helping us to understand the origins of the role and position of\ud women in clerical work\ud The central objective of the thesis is to offer a theoretical\ud framework for the analysis and comprehension of women's role and\ud position within clerical work. In order to achieve this two\ud approaches to the study of historical development are drawn on.\ud Firstly, the concept of patriarchy; secondly elements of the\ud labour process debate. It is argued throughout the thesis, but\ud particularly in chapters six to eight, that within the context\ud of clerical work, the 'gender dimension' is of crucial significance\ud in determining the nature of female office work; their pay and\ud conditions of work; their job prospects and opportunities; the\ud determination of 'skill' in the office; control within the office.\ud In short, the existence of a Patriarchal frame of reference has\ud contributed to the structuration of and divisions within the\ud clerical labour force.\ud 4. To consider the impact of wider social structure upon the role and\ud position of women in clerical work\ud Intimately linked to objective three, the thesis aims to consider\ud the impact of wider social structure and values on the role and\ud position of women in clerical work. The importance of wider social\ud values concerning the role and position of women within society\ud is considered and related to the structuration of employment. The\ud thesis argues that wider social structure and values are of crucial\ud importance in determining the role and position of women within\ud clerical work.\ud 5. To develop an overall framework for understanding the role and\ud position of women in society and in work\ud The overall objective of this thesis is to contribute to the body\ud of literature which seeks to understand the manner in which female\ud employment patternsare determined, in part, by patriarchal social\ud relations; that is, relations between men and women. It offers no\ud assessment of how to overcome this problem, but, through recognition\ud of the interrelationship between economic or capitalist development\ud and patriarchal social relations in the clerical work context, the\ud thesis aims to inform and educate on the subtlety and insidiousness\ud of this relationship

Topics: HD
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:4157

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