Women Homeworkers and Rural Economic Development
With a New Preface by the Author
Sales Date: November 9, 1994
208 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: November 1994
- Open access ebook available
- Published: November 1994
In this book Christina Gringeri investigates the effects of homeworking on workers—mainly women—and their families and explores the role of the state in subsidizing the development of homeworking jobs that depend on gender as an organizing principle. She focuses on two Midwestern communities—Riverton, Wisconsin and Prairie Hills, Iowa—where more than 80 families have supplemented their incomes since 1986 as home-based contractors of small auto parts for The Middle Company, a Fortune 500 manufacturer and subcontractor of General Motors.
Gringeri looks at rural development from the perspective of local and state officials as well as that of the workers. Through the use of extensive personal interviews, she shows how the advantage of homework for women—being able to stay home with their families—is outweighed by the disadvantages—piecework pay far below minimum wage, long hours, unstable contracts, and lack of company benefits.
Instead of providing the hoped-for financial panacea for rural families, Gringeri argues, industrial homework reinforces the unequal position of women as low-wage workers and holds families and communities below or near poverty level.
"A useful addition to collections on rural development or changing labor markets."—Choice
"Gringeri contributes significantly to resolving ongoing debates about the merits of homework by making explicit the structural links between homework on the one hand and economic restructuring and development policies and practices on the other."—Contemporary Sociology
"Gringeri offers a picture of rural homework by assembling interviews, town council minutes, and company contracts as deliberately and skillfully as the homeworkers who are her subjects assemble kits of auto parts."—Annals of Iowa
"A fascinating case study of industrial homework as a rural development strategy. This book covers a wide range of issues and disciplines, from the question of homework and its regulation to the problem of women and development in an international context; from the crisis of America's farm areas and the transformation of industrial relations to the power relations within households as well as between the household and other social structures. The oral interviews are wonderful—the voices of homeworkers come through in all their hope and pain."—Eileen Boris, author of Home to Work: Motherhood and the Politics of Industrial Homework in the United States
"This is a significant contribution to scholarship on rural development as well as to the literature on women’s work. The quotations by the women are rich and compelling, and those from management are rather astonishing in terms of their strategies for relocation. . . An excellent study of a largely unexplored but increasingly important are of homework in the contemporary U.S."—Carolyn Sachs, Pennsylvania State University
Preface to the Kansas Open Books Edition
1. Industrial Homework as Rural Development
2. Restructured Production: Homework as Rural Development
3. Homeworkers in the Heartland
4. Integrating Home and Informal-Sector Work
5. Understanding Industrial Homework as Subsidized Development
6. Homework in a Comparative Context