Accounting for Men’s Work: Multiple Employments and Occupational Identities in Early Modern England
History Workshop Journal
Oxford University Press (OUP)
The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of History Workshop Journal, all rights reserved.
Reason for embargo
Under embargo until 24th January 2020 to comply with publisher policy
This article addresses the social, cultural and gendered meanings of men’s work in early modern Britain. As has long been accepted for women, men’s work should be seen as multiple rather than single-occupational focused. Drawing on the diaries of three middle-rank tradesmen from the eighteenth century, the article considers the different forms that work took, and how words denoting labour such as ‘employment’, ‘work’ and ‘business’ were actually understood. Men had a broad definition of work that challenges distinctions between labour and leisure. These various forms of work had diverse benefits, challenging narrower economic understandings of ‘value’. Work was about more than making a living: it was a source of fulfilment, status and social identity. Work’s value and contribution to identity and status changed over the course of the lifecycle. It was carried out and understood in relation to others, especially men’s wives, rather than merely supporting notions of power and independence. By applying the insights drawn from studies of female work to men’s productive activities, the article reformulates historians’ understandings of the place of work in early modern men’s lives.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from OUP via the DOI in this record.
Published online 24-01-2018