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Unit information: Hard Labour? The History of Work (Level H Lecture Response Unit) in 2014/15

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Unit name Hard Labour? The History of Work (Level H Lecture Response Unit)
Unit code HIST30030
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. McLellan
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


Why do men do less washing-up? Why do women get paid less? Is being a housewife a proper job? This unit will explore the history of work in the twentieth century, paying particular attention to the distribution of work between men and women. We will consider formal employment, unpaid work, volunteering, domestic work and reproductive labour. Major themes to be covered include how the political, emotional, and economic value of work has been measured, and how this has been affected by developments in politics, the economy, policy, civil society, the family and the workplace. Sources for this study include datasets, eyewitness accounts and memoirs, newspapers and other media.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have developed: (1) a broad understanding of the development of work in the modern world; (2) the ability to analyse and generalise about how and why work has been valued, measured , regulated and studied; (3) the ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general issues and arguments; (4) the ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically, and form an individual viewpoint.

Teaching details

1 x 2-hour interactive lecture per week.

Assessment Details

One summative coursework essay of 3000 words (50%) and one unseen examination of two hours comprising 2 questions out of 8 (50%). Both elements will assess ILOs 1-4.

Reading and References

Josef Ehmer and Catharina Lis (eds), The Idea of Work in Europe from Antiquity to Early Modern Times (Ashgate, 2009).

Marcel van der Linden, Workers of the World. Essays toward a Global Labor History (Brill, 2008).

Catharina Lis and Hugo Soly, Worthy Efforts: Attitudes to Work and Workers in Pre-Industrial Europe (Brill, 2012).

Pat Mainardi, 'The Politics of Housework', Redstockings, 1970.

Selina Todd, Young Women, Work, and Family in England 1918-1950 (Oxford University Press, 2005).