Work and Care

Several Centre projects are concerned with gendered divisions of labour and associated inequalities, covering a variety of topics ranging from working mothers, the care economy, migrant workers, prostitution, female entrepreneurship, discrimination in the workplace, to the broader relationship between gendered divisions of labour and economic development. Research on the history of feminism has included analysis of women’s activism surrounding demands for equal pay and employment opportunities and campaigns calling for the recognition of women’s reproductive labour and unpaid work (Bracke).

Centre members are involved in two research networks on the value of women’s work, one on modern Europe (1945-2015) and one on early modern Europe (1500-1800). Other projects focus on gender and de-industrialisation (Clarke); knitting, textiles and craft economies in Scotland (Abrams); and housing design (Abrams).

2019-2022: 'Fleece to Fashion project

2018-2021: Childcare, Family and Economy in Britain 1650-1850

Leverhulme Trust 2018-2021
PI: Prof Alexandra Shepard

2018-19: After the factory: women, gender and deindustrialisation in European perspective

A Royal Society of Edinburgh funded network

Led by Dr Jackie Clarke

Local partners: West Dunbartonshire Libraries and Cultural Services/Sewing Machine Collection and Singer Archive and Renfrewshire Leisure/Paisley Museum Reimagined

The aim of this network is to promote research and knowledge exchange exploring the gendered implications of deindustrialisation with a particular focus on women’s experiences and on how such experiences are narrated and made visible. In pursuing this goal the network aims to promote dialogue across disciplines and national contexts, facilitate exchange among researchers in Scotland and elsewhere in Europe, bring academics together with cultural institutions involved in public history and heritage, and engage local communities with their industrial and post-industrial history. The network will organise a series of events over 2018 and 2019.

2015-18: Producing Change: Gender and Work in Early Modern Europe

Leverhulme 2015-18
PI: Prof Alex Shepard

Leverhulme International Network on ‘Producing Change: Gender and Work in Early Modern Europe’. The Network brings together partners from the Universities of Barcelona, Cambridge, Glasgow, Leiden, Rouen and Uppsala. 

Bringing together a broad range of expertise garnered through intensive local and regional research, this network is designed to seize a timely opportunity to foster extensive collaborative and comparative research on the multi-lateral character of both women and men’s work in order build a new paradigm for approaching modernization in early modern Europe. More than simply ‘adding women’ to existing assessments of economic activity, it is becoming increasingly clear that attending to the relationship between gender and work demands a fundamental reassessment of the very nature of economic performance.

The Network will host a series of events between 2016 and 2018 designed to establish conceptual foundations and methodological guidelines and evaluate the meta-narratives that, in the past, historians have used to account for economic development in the early modern period. 

2015: Gender and Deindustrialisation

Deindustrialization has proven an important issue of political debate and scholarly interest across much of Europe and North America since the 1980s, with considerable attention being given to the loss of male jobs in heavy industry. Due to the effect of the 2008 economic crisis, a new phase of deindustrialization is taking place in several European countries, leading to a new stream of scholarly research. Yet, gender dynamics in these processes are generally not considered in scholarly research, in spite of the importance women have often played as agents of resistance to de-industrialization. 

During an informal meeting with local and international partners, held at the University of Glasgow in May 2015, and a subsequent workshop organized by the Scottish Oral History Centre at the University of Strathclyde, on Friday 16 October 2015, plans were discussed to set up an international research network on the theme of gender and deindustrialization. The core network team consists of Dr Jackie Clarke and Dr Fanny Gallot (Université Paris-Est Créteil, France). 

Our collaborators are: Andrew Clark (University of Strathclyde); Dr Eloisa Betti (Università di Bologna, Italy); Dr Chiara Bonfiglioli (University of Pula, Croatia); Dr Andrea Hajek (University of Glasgow); Dr Valerie Wright (University of Glasgow).

2014-16: Housing, everyday life and wellbeing over the long term in Glasgow c.1950–1975

Leverhulme Research Project 2014-16 

Run by Prof Lynn Abrams (History) and Professor Ade Kearns (Urban Studies)

After the Second World War, Glasgow was notorious as the most ‘slum-ridden’ city of Britain. To tackle its urban squalor, massive schemes of slum clearance, public housing, and urban redesign were undertaken on an unparalleled scale. Modern homes in high rises and new towns were identified as the solution, an approach championed on behalf of the working classes by architects, planners, and local officials. Glasgow was nationally influential in its approach, which channelled this modernist impulse into homes, designed and built with a modern aesthetic and with the use of new building materials and techniques. More than fifty years on from the inception of Glasgow's housing revolution there are lessons to be learned from this massive public housing experiment.

This project will employ a historical approach in revisiting this period of post-war redevelopment and will ask to what degree it succeeded or failed, for whom, and in what context, over the longer term. Ultimately, understanding what has happened to people in social housing across the lifecycle, and over several decades, can provide important lessons for the conduct and prospective impacts of restructuring programmes today.

The project bridges the gap between historical research and contemporary policy concerns regarding public housing design and supply. Pioneering studies undertaken in the 1960s have largely been forgotten by today's housing experts and yet those findings provide us with valuable data from a moment when high-rise and new town living was still in its infancy, and offer immediate and tangible material to inform contemporary policy questions.

2014-16: Knitting in the Round: Hand-Knitted Textiles and the Economies of Craft in Scotland

Knitting in the Round: Hand-Knitted Textiles and the Economies of Craft in Scotland is a University of Glasgow network supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

We are delighted to announce ‘Knitting in the Round: Hand-Knitted Textiles and the Economies of Craft in Scotland’, a University of Glasgow network supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

The network will develop collaborations between a range of sectors: business, heritage, education, tourism and culture and arts; and will explore how historical understandings of knit as an economic, creative and cultural practice inform modern and contemporary uses of this textile practice.

Knit is the pin-up craft for sustainability, creativity and authenticity. Knitting in the Round will investigate the transformation from small-scale, home-based craft production to one of Scotland’s most identifiable brands and it will explore the relationships that knit facilitates: between young and old, across continents, between practitioners and researchers, producers and consumers, in the Scottish and international context. Through a series of events combining practice and theory we will interrogate the meaning of knit in the present and the past. The result will be greater public understanding of the ways in which knit contributes to the Scottish economy, to health and wellbeing and to cultural enrichment.

The core network team consists of Prof Lynn Abrams and Dr Marina Moskowitz, both of the School of Humanities, University of Glasgow, and Roslyn Chapman, currently researching a PhD on the history of Shetland lace knitting.

Our collaborators are: Carol Christiansen (Shetland Museum and Archives); Frances Lennard (Textile Conservation Centre, University of Glasgow); Di Gilpin (knitwear designer of Di Gilpin Ltd); Laura Stevens (archivist at Glasgow Women’s Library); Fiona Scott (MakeWorks).

We will be holding a series of public and community-based events over the course of 2014-16 including events to coincide with the Commonwealth Games and the anniversary of the start of the First World War, a knitter in residence at Glasgow University and workshops exploring the diversity and heritage of Scottish knit. All events will be announced on the Knit History blog.

2014-16: Women, work and value in Europe 1945-2015

AHRC 2014-15
PI: Dr Maud Bracke

The AHRC Network Women, work and value in Europe 1945-2015 is a collaborative network involving scholars from Bristol, Glasgow (Bracke), Oxford and Liverpool.

From the ‘rubble women’ of the immediate postwar period to the ‘working mothers’ of today, women’s work – paid and unpaid - has been the object of intense political significance and public scrutiny. In popular and cultural representations, women’s work has variously been portrayed as heroic, disruptive, everyday, and abnormal. Bringing together historians, scholars of culture and society, and social scientists, this research network explores the ways in which women’s work has been valued in postwar Europe – by states, trade unions, employers, popular opinion, and of course by women themselves.

2014-16: Knitting in the Round

Royal Society of Edinburgh 2014-16
PI: PRof Lynn Abrams

Project webpage

Sept 2014: Making connections: women’s work in the pre-industrial European economy

This project brings together scholars from across Europe and North America with an interest in gender and work in the pre-industrial European economy. Involving collaboration between Prof Alexandra Shepard of Glasgow University, Dr Amy Erickson of Cambridge University, and Professor Maria Ågren and Professor Margaret Hunt of Uppsala University, Sweden.  

Funded by the Glasgow University International Partnership Development Fund, the Economic History Society, and Uppsala University, a workshop was held in September 2014 in order to establish the foundations for future comparative work.  For a draft programme of this event, click here: Glasgow workshop programme.