This article explores the reasons behind the marked differences in the gender division of labour in the emerging textile factories in Japan and India in the first half of the twentieth century. In Japan, the overwhelming majority of the workers in spinning mills were young, unmarried women, while in India men—married as well as unmarried—formed the bulk of the factory textile workforce. We argue that variations in agrarian systems and labour regimes constitute an important set of factors explaining some of these differences in gender patterns. The structural differences in the productivity, intensity and the social organisation of labour in agricultural economies in both countries led to notable variances in the gender composition of the supply of (rural) labour for the factories. Differential deployment of rural farm and non-farm labour, in combination with distinct labour recruitment practices in the countryside, caused rural households to adopt radically different income-generating strategies.
The article is published Open Access and freely available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00194646221083806