Alessandra Pescarolo

Women’s Work in Late Modern Italy. Some Replies

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This article takes up some results of the book Il lavoro delle donne nell’Italia contemporanea. First, the invisibility of women, rooted in ancient ideals and the sexual subjugation of women as a condition for the honour of men. This also concealed their productive activities and work cultures. Second, the specific form of invisibility due to the emergence of modern political economy in the XVIII century, which excludes from the new idea of work nonmarket commodities, and especially services. Third, the coincidence of a new ideal with this old female discrimination: the bourgeois moral and legal norm of the male breadwinner. The popular and female work ethic long resisted the bourgeois attempt to generalise it, as the anthropological evidence of peasant women’s work and role in popular protest shows. However, after World War II, the male breadwinner ideal reached its greatest historical spread for a variety of reasons.


  • Women’
  • s Work
  • Invisibility
  • Male Breadwinner
  • Cultural and Legal Norms
  • Social Classes


Article first page

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