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Smokestacks in the HillsRural-Industrial Workers in West Virginia$
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Lou Martin

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039454

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039454.001.0001

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Work and Identity in the Factory and at Home

Work and Identity in the Factory and at Home

(p.125) Chapter 5 Work and Identity in the Factory and at Home
Smokestacks in the Hills

Lou Martin

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the evolution of gendered division of labor in the factories and at home. In the 1940s and 1950s, potteries hired increasing numbers of women to fill more and more roles in the production process. The fact that pottery wages fell behind steel wages in these decades contributed to the declining percentage of men in the potteries as they sought a family wage. At home, women and men fell back into more familiar gender roles as they produced their own food, made their own clothing, and built their own houses. Rural-industrial workers believed in “making do” to stretch their family income, performing self-help activities that harked back to older work patterns on the farms that many of them had left behind. Thus, there were two gender divisions of labor operating in parallel: one at home and another in the factory, one derived from rural self-sufficiency and the other from industrial production.

Keywords:   gender division, labor, family wage, gender roles, rural-industrial workers, self-help activities, rural self-sufficiency, industrial production

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