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286 The Canadian Historical Review information produced and circulated by amateur reformers (including unsympathetic feminists), early professional social scientists, and journalists. Bribe takers, property owners, and vendors, who sold everything from underwear to illegal drugs, profited from the industry. The internal work relations were overseen by women managers, often former prostitutes, and men who were pimps or the owners' agents. Levesque does not romanticize prostitutes' transgression. In the unfortunate absence of their views, she suggests that young women may have found a way out of unemployment or the country, but at the cost of entering into a stigmatized workplace that was subject to the same kind of labour intensification and control that their factory sisters faced. Levesque warns her readers not to expect methodological discussion, but, I would have preferred her to have developed her arguments about discourse or the malleability of gendered subject positions rather than engage in what appears to be sniping against those preoccupied with such concerns. Still, it is a useful collection that makes interestirig work more widely available. HEATHER fON MARONEY Carleton University Earning Respect: The Lives of Working Women in Small-Town Ontario, 1920-1960. JOAN SANGSTER. Toronto: University ofToronto Press 1995. Pp. x, 333, illus. $45.00 cloth, $19.95 paper Joan Sangster uses this local study of women working for wages in Peterborough, Ontario, to raise a number of important theoretical issues concerning the intersection of class and gender. Her own commitment to a materialist-feminist analysis is clearly stated: 'A study of working women,' she argues, 'Jnust take into account the context in which women sell their labour power and the evolution ofrelationships between classes, because the latter set out the structures, limits, and possibilities for women's experience and behaviour. At the same time, historical materialism must be infused with an awareness of the operation of patriarchal social structures and with attention to women's active creation to their own history' (249). Sangster provides a cogent and balanced discussion ofthe conceptual and methodological underpinnings of her research, including her decisions to focus on women workers rather than provide the comparative study of female and male experience favoured by proponents of gender history, and to make extensive use of oral history. While Book Reviews 287 acknowledging the problematic aspects of the construct of 'female experience,' raised most recently and most vociferously by poststructuralist critics, she argues persuasively for continued attention to women's lived realities and to their own accounts ofthose realities. Through her discussion of the work and working conditions of women employed primarily in four large industrial settings, Sangster extends our knowledge about key issues such as gender dynamics in the workplace, women's workplace culture, and the complex relationship between labour unions and women workers. One of the most insightful aspects of her work is her analysis of the psychological and sociological dimensions of female working class respectability, and the various strategies women employed to achieve and maintain it. Jn short, this study provides a perceptive analysis of the combined effect of material conditions and ideology in framing the experiences of women who worked for wages in the interwar and postwar decades. Sangster maps the experiences of women engaged in both bluecollar and white-collar waged work using lengthy interviews conducted with a total of ninety-one women and ten men. In order to track the continuities and changes in the women's work situations and domestic lives, she has divided the interviewees into two groups - those who entered the work-force prior to the Second World War and those who did so after 1945 For social scientists accustomed to researchers using precisely defined birth cohorts, the grouping of workers into two such general categories is problematic. To begin with, one wonders how women who entered paid employment during the war have been classified . There also appears to be a lack of rigour in conceptualizing cohorts, as is evident on page 28, where the author refers to 'the first cohort of women, those who went out to work before the Second World War,' yet two sentences later, refers to 'women from this age group.' In fact, as Sangster acknowledges, there were important variations in the age at which...
Large set of underwear (286 options)
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