Bound by Our Constitution: Women, Workers, and the Minimum by Vivien Hart

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By Vivien Hart

What distinction does a written structure make to public coverage? How have ladies staff fared in a state sure through constitutional rules, in comparison with these now not coated via formal, written promises of reasonable strategy or equitable consequence? to enquire those questions, Vivien Hart strains the evolution of minimal salary rules within the usa and Britain from their universal origins in women's politics round 1900 to their divergent results in our day. She argues, opposite to universal knowledge, that the virtue has been with the yankee constitutional method instead of the British. Basing her research on basic learn, Hart reconstructs criminal techniques and coverage judgements that revolved round the popularity of girls as staff and the general public definition of gender roles. Contrasting seismic shifts and enlargement in American minimal salary coverage with indifference and eventual abolition in Britain, she demanding situations preconceptions concerning the constraints of yankee constitutionalism as opposed to British flexibility. although constitutional necessities did block and frustrate women's makes an attempt to achieve reasonable wages, additionally they, as Hart demonstrates, created a terrain within the usa for principled debate approximately girls, paintings, and the state--and a momentum for public policy--unparalleled in Britain. Hart's publication will be of curiosity to coverage, exertions, women's, and criminal historians, to political scientists, and to scholars of gender concerns, legislation, and social coverage.

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Extra resources for Bound by Our Constitution: Women, Workers, and the Minimum Wage

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Their discourse, defining the identities of and relationships between women and workers, families and homes, and all these and the state was framed by the growth and problems of industrial and urban environments, the formation of a Labour Party and the concomitant unpredictability of three-party politics, the gradual displacement of laissez-faire ideology by collectivism, and the expansion of the state through an array of new social policies. The contest over minimum wage policy was a minor part of a period of innovation in social thought and policy.

J. 101 Macarthur led opposition to limiting a minimum wage law either to women or to home workers. These were arbitrary distinctions, she believed, in a situation in which class was the defining characteristic. A rumor that “it is proposed that the [Trade Boards] Act should apply to women only” inflamed her. ”102 A more serious threat of restriction to home workers was equally unacceptable. ” Where the work was done was irrelevant, “We quite recognise that • N O S W E A T • 33 the experiment must be made gradually, but .

A defense of the status quo came from both left and right. Unions and employers had agreed spheres of influence: “There is in theory a divorce . . between the manner of dealing with the conditions of work and that of dealing with its remuneration. The questions are treated as separate and requiring different leverage to force up their position . . ”42 The attraction for trade unions of this recognition of a single, clear, and crucial function as their sphere was evident. The reasoning of conservative forces fearful of minimum wage legislation was spelled out in 1909 in the Quarterly Review.

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