• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9
  10. 10
    10
  11. 11
    11

What does the employer - servant relationship tell us about class, gender and imperial inequalities in this period?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

WHAT DOES THE EMPLOYER - SERVANT RELATIONSHIP TELL US ABOUT CLASS, GENDER AND IMPERIAL INEQUALITIES IN THIS PERIOD? In 1851 domestic service was the second largest occupational group in Britain with over one million servants in employment. Servants did not just work in the 'Great Houses' but were employed by middle and lower middle class families too. Victorian England measured social acceptability in terms of the number of servants employed in a household. In the 19th century most domestic servants were of humble origins and in the early Victorian period at least, were from rural backgrounds. The self-image of a middle or upper class Victorian woman depended on her management of the household and her entourage of servants. Distinct from the duties that devolved naturally on a wife and mother, were those of a mistress, or female head of household. And as Vickery says, 'An inevitable component of genteel administration was the management of servants.' [Vickery, 1998:134] As the mistress of the house Victorian women became the decision makers of the household - giving orders to servants controlling the financial matters of the household, making decisions regarding the employment of servants - a very large proportion of whom consisted of working class women. The relationship however between these different strata of Victorian women - the mistress and the maid - was often difficult and fraught with tensions. The employer looked for certain qualities in a servant while the servants looked for particular benefits. ...read more.

Middle

[Davidoff, 1999:165] The last stipulation received widespread notoriety when a maidservant was 'rightfully dismissed' when going to see her dying mother. Other grievances were of the quantity of food received and its inferior quality, the generalised names by which the servants were called - which were considered degrading. 'There was resentment too, over the lack of privacy even for older servants whose rooms and belongings were open to inspection, especially if anything appeared to be missing from the house.' [Davidoff, 1999:173] However, it is wrong to assume that the relationships between the mistresses and the maids had no degree benevolence at all. Some mistresses treated their servants well and the relationship would often go on to become more personal. Servants would be then providing emotional support and remain not just an employee. Besides this, the genteel class in general - both male and female were extremely dependent on servants. They expected to be waited upon and needed the servants. These relationships were therefore a combination of power, fear, and dependence. The dependence however was quite mutual in any servant - master relationship. The servants not just needed the wages paid to them. For many working class women, service was their only means of attaining economic independence, which admittedly was limited, but was independence nevertheless. Service however, remained a strictly classed and gendered occupation. In the colonies it had racial implications as well. As Davidoff says, 'It was the physical, intellectual and emotional, work of servants and landladies, as well as wives, sisters, maiden aunts, nieces and daughters which ensured that others (the employing class and many men) ...read more.

Conclusion

[ Davidoff, 1995:121] These themes were mostly based on their class and gender differences, but at one point Munby dressed Hannah as a slave, covered her in soot, racialising the body of a working class woman. Munby's obsession with dirt was another recurrent theme. It actually was the middle class phobia for dirt and grime that formed a part of the working class identity. All these aspects can be clearly seen in Hannah and Munby's relationship, which was highly personalised, where aspects of class, gender, and race were all intertwined. 'The pervasiveness of both class and gender categories, which it (the Hannah and Munby collection of diaries) illustrates, stems from the effect of often unconscious, highly charged, emotional expectations laid down in childhood, which in many cases appear in the form of subliminal images. The mutual pre-occupations of both Hannah and Munby with boundaries and their experience of crossing these boundaries in both fantasy and reality can tell us a lot a great deal about the way the fabric of the Victorian society was created and maintained.' [Davidoff, 1995: 141] The Victorian period was a time of intensive social and cultural changes. The domestic servant issue was a part of the innumerable issues that arose at this point. The relationship between the employer and servants not just changed during this period, it also established a new occupational group that lasted till the world war. However, we can conclude by saying that though there were class, gender and racial inequalities that this group suffered from, the servant - master relationship at this point was mainly one of interdependence. --------------------------X-------------------------- 1 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. What was the relationship between the Spartans, ...

    It also meant that the Spartans were hesitant to become involved in military campaigns far from home in case the Helots used the army's absence as an opportunity to revolt. This cautious attitude is reflected by Thucydides' comment. (Thuc IV.80)

  2. Gender Capital ? - Bourdieu and Gender Inequality

    suggests that women are more likely to be promoted to levels where women are already present. This is due in some part to the 'sex-typing' of jobs, but is also connected to social networks, or same-sex alliances; 'it may be that what is thought of as a glass ceiling is

  1. Is identity given to us or do we create our own?

    These roles play an integral part of our identity since they represent the way we are expected to behave, project an image of our self, assure different levels of status and exercise different levels of power.

  2. “The Great Leapfrog Race” - An Essay on gender and class role expectations

    No matter how, it still shows the author reflects his experiences and his gender expectations into the story. There are three main classes in society. Upper class consists of kings and queens and other royalty such as presidents and sultans.

  1. Young people, class and gender

    Falmouth is a harbour town in Cornwall and is surrounded by many small villages. The young women involved with the consultation for this essay were white and of British origin, it is important to recognise the data collated by myself represents the views of Young White Women from a variety

  2. "Compare the presentation of the exploitation of women in "Memoirs of a Geisha" by ...

    Niang purposely makes sure that Adeline and her family are treated as outcasts "...we the have - nots, were allocated the second floor..." Niang's own mixture of heritage including her ability to speak French and her European background heightens her status this elitism is associated with the Americans, making her the envy of so many other Chinese women.

  1. The essay will interpret inequalities in health among the sub-populations of socio-economic class position, ...

    Each of these measurements however has its limitations. For example dependency on mortality rates can induce comparative indifference towards problems of chronic illness from illnesses that do not kill people but lower their well-being and thus distort results. (Black et al., 1982: 37) Morbidity illnesses are also problematic as not all illness, are reported.

  2. Shifting Gender Norms: The Ideal Woman in Story of an African Farm.

    Although I choose to apply Showalter's terms for this study it is important that my readers know that I do so merely as illustration-what is important is not the terms I use, but the relationships of the characters in the novel.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work