Transforming Labour: Women and Work in Postwar Canada

Transforming Labour: Women and Work in Postwar Canada

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by Joan Sangster

University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2010
World Rights
416 Pages 12 Images
ISBN 9780802096524
Published May 2010
Online discount: 25%
 $38.95    $29.21
ISBN 9780802097118
Published May 2010
Online discount: 25%
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ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442698963
Published May 2010
Online discount: 26%
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The increased participation of women in the labour force was one of the most significant changes to Canadian social life during the quarter century after the close of the Second World War. Transforming Labour offers one of the first critical assessments of women's paid labour in this era, a period when more and more women, particularly those with families, were going 'out to work'.

Using case studies from across Canada, Joan Sangster explores a range of themes, including women's experiences within unions, Aboriginal women's changing patterns of work, and the challenges faced by immigrant women. By charting women's own efforts to ameliorate their work lives as well as factors that re-shaped the labour force, Sangster challenges the commonplace perception of this era as one of conformity, domesticity for women, and feminist inactivity. Working women's collective grievances fuelled their desire for change, culminating in challenges to the status quo in the 1960s, when they voiced their discontent, calling for a new world of work and better opportunities for themselves and their daughters.

Joan Sangster is a professor in the Departments of History and Women's Studies at Trent University.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: Representations and Realities: The Shifting Boundaries of Women's Work

Chapter 2: Gender, Ethnicity, and Immigrant Women in Postwar-Canada: The Dionne Textile Workers

Chapter 3: Women and the Canadian Labour Movement during the Cold War

Chapter 4: 'Souriez Pour les Clients': Retail Work, Dupuis Frères, and Union Protest

Chapter 5: Discipline and Grieve: Gendering the Fordist Accord

Chapter 6: Aboriginal Women and Work in Prairie Communities

Chapter 7: Tackling the "Problem": of the Woman Worker: The Labour Movement, Working Women and the Royal Commission on the Status of Women

Conclusion: Putting Contradictions in Context




'This is a beautifully conceived and revealing book. Joan Sangster lucidly explores and explains an astonishing array of complex material to reveal how women in the post war period became full-fledged members of the labor force. Transforming Labour offers such a rich variety of anecdotal evidence that it will benefit students of women's work from all over the world.'

Alice Kessler-Harris, author of In Pursuit of Equity: Women, Men and the Quest for Economic Citizenship in Twentieth Century America

'Joan Sangster's history of women's paid work shows a side of employment that is often hidden by a focus on men's labour. Transforming Labour is attentive to political economy as well as culture and identity, and beautifully places women's voices within larger theoretical debates. Sangster's focus on the multiplicity of women's lived experience and the possibility of human agency in the context of unequal social relations and competing understandings of women's place at work makes for a compelling narrative that will interest readers with a wide range of expertise across many disciplines.'

Judy Fudge, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria and co-author of Labour before the Law

‘Sangster’s book is a welcome addition to the growing body of research on women’s work and family lives in the three decades after the Second World War…It is refreshing to find a book that still sees working women as historical subjects rather than as abstract constructs.’

June Hannam , Labour/le Travail, vol68: 2011

John A. Macdonald Prize awarded by Canadian Historical Association (Canada) - Commended in 2011