Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

[Ideal Surroundings: Domestic Life in a Working-Class Suburb in the 1920s]

Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

[Ideal Surroundings: Domestic Life in a Working-Class Suburb in the 1920s]

Article excerpt

Ideal Surroundings: Domestic Life in a Working - Class Suburb in the 1920s

Suzanne Morton Toronto, London and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1995; 201 pp.

Reviewed by Camilla Cockerton Department of Geography University of Canterbury Christchurch, New Zealand

Ideal Surroundings is an historical community study of Richmond Heights, a working - class suburb in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It focusses on an intriguing and turbulent period in Halifax's history - the 1920s. The 1917 explosion in Halifax harbour induced a major reconstruction of the city and the region in the 1920s. This accompanied a dramatic shift in Halifax from manufacturing and transportation to service and trade. This rapid transformation of the local Halifax economy foreshadowed a much slower national transition.

Suzanne Morton chose to use a community study in order "to reconstruct the daily lives of ordinary people and to explore questions about living conditions, identity, and culture" (p. 5). She depicts class, age, and gender as "real and interconnected relationships....Haligonians simultaneously shared many different identities that came into focus at different times or over different issues." This hook joins the growing North American literature which makes gender central to historical studies of the working class. Previously, labour histories portrayed working class culture as something that was created by and partially defined labouring men. For instance, Joy Parr and Elizabeth Faue have applied a gender analysis to the rise of mass culture and the entrenchment of monopoly capitalism. Morton's work contributes to this body of literature in its emphasis on home and the domestic life. Rather than focussing primarily on the working class or working class institutions such as labour unions, she examined how domestic life shaped the entire working class experience. …

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