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Constructing Gendered Workplace 'Types': The weaver-millworker distinction in Dundee's jute industry, c. 1880-1910

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Abstract:

Victorian and Edwardian Dundee was labelled a 'woman's town' due to the high proportion of women who worked in the city's staple jute industry. In this article, drawing on a range of contemporary sources, I use the work of feminist historians and Foucauldian notions of discourse to interrogate this label and explore why and how working women came to be marked as particularly problematic. Further, in questioning this label, I demonstrate how two specific workplace 'types' - the weaver and millworker - were identified and constructed in contrast to one another. This article probes the processes through which these two 'types' were created, contested and performed in relation to the segregations and working conditions of their respective workplaces, and argues for a markedly spatial interrogation of gender identities and the category 'working woman'.

Keywords: Dundee; Working women; discourse; gendered 'types'; jute industry

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09663690701439777

Affiliations: Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK

Publication date: 2007-08-01

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