Abstract

This article analyses women’s work in the Dutch textile industry in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries within the framework of dual (or segmented) labour market theory. This theoretical framework is usually applied to the modern labour market, but it is also valuable for historical research. It clarifies, for example, how segmentation in the labour market influenced men’s and women’s work in the textile industry. Applying this analysis, we find that, even in periods without explicit gender conflict, patriarchal and capitalist forces utilized the gender segmentation of the labour market to redefine job status and labour relations in periods of economic change. Although this could harm the economic position of all women and migrants, it appears that single women were affected most by these mechanisms.

Abstract

Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk investigates the extent to which colonial ties between the Netherlands and the Netherlands East-Indies influenced women’s labour patterns in the colony as well as the metropolis. On the one hand, comparisons are made between quantitative and qualitative developments in women’s labour force participation in the Netherlands and the Netherlands Indies in the colonial period. On the other hand, various connections are made between developments in the metropolis and the colony. Not only did Dutch economic and colonial policies, such as the Cultivation System and the exports of Dutch textiles by the Dutch Trading Company (nhm), lead to changes in women’s work in both regions. Moreover, social policy, for instance the Social Question and Ethical Policy, also influenced legislation on and practices of women’s work in colony and metropolis. The underlying rhetorics were generally patronising, containing elements of class, ethnicity and gender to justify intervention (and the differences therein) in both parts of the empire.

Abstract

In the historical debate, the gender wage gap is usually attributed either to productivity differences or to gender discrimination. By analysing a newly constructed series of spinning wages in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic, the wages of male and female textile workers for the same work could be investigated. At first sight, the evidence on equal piece rates for spinning men and women seems to rule out wage discrimination. Nevertheless, more deeply rooted gender discrimination resulting from the segmented seventeenth-century labour market restricted women’s access to many professions. Exactly this segmentation determined differences in wage earning capacities between men and women.

Abstract

This article aims to provide an empirical test of Jan de Vries’ theory of the ‘industrious revolution’, most notably his assumptions concerning the increased participation of married women in the labour force. The focus is on the pre-industrial textile industry in the Dutch Republic, within which a distinction is made between various ways in which family members cooperated in the work they undertook. This differentiation depended on the existing segmentation of the labour market, between social groups and between the sexes. It is shown that at least some groups within proletarian textile families were able to make a decent living, and that the earnings of wives played an important role in the increased industriousness of these families.

Abstract

This article investigates developments in labour policies and social norms on gender and work from a colonial perspective. It aims to analyse the extent to which state policies and societal norms influenced gendered labour relations in the Netherlands and its colony, the Netherlands Indies (present-day Indonesia). In order to investigate the influence of the state on gender and household labour relations in the Dutch empire, this paper compares as well as connects social interventions related to work and welfare in the Netherlands and the Netherlands Indies from the early nineteenth century up until World War II. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, work was seen as a means to morally discipline the poor, both in the Netherlands and the Netherlands Indies. Parallel initiatives were taken by Johannes van den Bosch, who, in 1815, established “peat colonies” in the Netherlands, aiming to transform the urban poor into industrious agrarian workers, and in 1830 introduced the Cultivation System in the Netherlands Indies, likewise to increase the industriousness of Javanese peasants. While norms were similar, the scope of changing labour relations was much vaster in the colony than in the metropole. During the nineteenth century, ideals and practices of the male breadwinner started to pervade Dutch households, and children’s and women’s labour laws were enacted. Although in practice many Dutch working-class women and children continued to work, their official numbers dropped significantly. In contrast to the metropole, the official number of working (married) women in the colony was very high, and rising over the period. Protection for women and children was introduced very late in the Netherlands Indies and only under intense pressure from the international community. Not only did Dutch politicians consider it “natural” for Indonesian women and children to work, their assumptions regarding inherent differences between Indonesian and Dutch women served to justify the protection of the latter: a fine example of what Ann Stoler and Frederick Cooper have called a “grammar of difference”.

Abstract

Many dependency theorists as well as economic historians have contended that nineteenth-century imperial policies and economic globalization de-industrialized the global ‘periphery’. European metropoles extracted raw materials and tropical commodities from their overseas territories, and in turn indigenous consumers bought their industrial products, textiles in particular. This article investigates three of the assumptions of Ricardian trade theory that are often behind the de-industrialization narrative. In this article it is argued that, at least for colonial Java’s textile industry, these assumptions should be reconsidered. Adverse trade policies imposed by the Dutch and a prolonged terms-of-trade boom in favour of primary commodities make colonial Java a unique case for exploring the merits of the de-industrialization thesis. Here it is demonstrated that Javanese households resourcefully responded to changing market circumstances, in the first place by flexible allocation of female labour. Moreover, indigenous textile producers specialized in certain niches that catered for local demand. Because of these factors, local textile production in Java appears to have been much more resilient than most of the historical literature suggests. These findings not only shed new light on the social and economic history of colonial Indonesia, but also contribute to the recent literature on alternative, labour-intensive paths of industrialization in the non-western world.

Abstract

In recent years, labor history has taken a “global turn” and the focus has increasingly been on labor relations in the non-Western context. This article aims to challenge existing perceptions of the history of domestic work in Europe from a global labor history perspective, by comparing as well as connecting the histories of domestic workers globally. It addresses continuities and discontinuities in domestic work in relation to the life cycle around the world. As recent as the new international division of labor may seem, within the context of globalization and women’s emancipation, it also builds on much older patterns of migration, colonial relations and gender and ethnic stereotypes.