The Grand Domestic Revolution: A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods, and Cities

By Dolores Hayden | Go to book overview

Bibliographical Note

Extended bibliographical footnotes discuss the secondary literature and manuscript sources on which this work is based. The greatest problems for the researcher lie in the peculiar way in which academic fields, as they are now defined, have avoided coming to terms with domestic life and domestic work at all. This note is a brief comment on shifting fields, rather than on specific literature.

Analysis of that social and architectural unit we think of as the household is difficult without a theoretical framework that integrates many disciplines. At the end of the nineteenth century the founders of the field of home economics attempted to transcend the housewife's cri de coeur and the traditional domestic economy manual with the creation of a professional literature synthesizing many disciplines. They defined home economics (or domestic science) as a comprehensive social and physical science encompassing sociology, economics, nutrition, sanitation, and architecture. Many significant insights were derived from the synthesis of disciplines, and in the 1880s and 1890s scholars such as Ellen Swallow Richards of MIT developed ecology and nutrition as applied sciences. Nevertheless home economics became a low-status field dominated by women. Some of its members had encountered severe discrimination in other academic disciplines. By the 1920s, many of them had accepted the consultancies offered by industrial corporations lobbying for a consumption-oriented definition of the Ameri

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