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19th Century Women's Rights

Decent Essays
At the onset of 19th Century, a shift of the American economy from one based in agrarianism to industry, fostered the underpinnings of the idea that “worker’s rights are human rights.” With an increased emphasis on the manufacturing and production of goods, the worker-- a largely irrelevant figure prior to this “shift,” gained not only increased relevance in the economy, but also an increased social agency, allowing them to address their needs as a human being. Furthermore, an individual’s experience as a worker (and consequently as a “human being”), was tied to their social location-- meaning their socioeconomic status, gender, and after the Civil War, their race. Therefore, we find that in struggles for civil rights and movements to improve people’s livelihoods, This paper will argue that through three periods in…show more content…
Activism for women’s causes, and the progress of women’s rights resultant from their status as workers, begins in the 19th Century. As women began to abandon the restrictive agrarian lifestyle in favor of work in the textile industry, and women in the Northeast began to take their role as workers in the home and in industry became increasingly recognized-- but this didn’t necessarily lead to an increase in “respect” and “freedom,” as one may suppose. In “To Earn Her Daily Bread,” Boydston demonstrates that the survival of antebellum working class families was dependent on more than just “subsistence wage” alone. (Boydston, 120) She cites housework as having qualitative value-- meaning that a woman’s housework could have “a value without a price,” and should be included in the “surplus value of industrial capitalism.” Women were also vital in the family economy, sometimes producing goods to aid in a family's survival. (Lecture 2, Slide 12) Furthermore, Boydston notes that despite this value, women’s work in the home was perceived as useless, because it didn’t
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