Women's Paid and Unpaid Labor: The Work Transfer in Health Care and Retailing

By Nona Y. Glazer | Go to book overview

5
From Salesclerk to Cashier

Wanted: White male, family man preferred, for full-time, year-round employment. Requires good deportment, manners, and grooming, good English (no foreign-born, please); applicant must have several years' experience in selling women's fine apparel. Salary plus commission.

Or a similar notice in 1890 might have read "in butchering and dressing beef and poultry" or "in fabrics, notions, and tailoring." In 1890, hiring practices in most large U.S. stores implied a search for these qualifications, reproducing the gender, racial, and ethnic practices of discrimination and subordination in the United States. From 1912 onward, retailers adopted self-service, intending to solve labor shortages and reduce high wages, to counter union militancy and attract customers with cheap goods. Ideologies about gender, race, and ethnicity created the "labor shortages" and "too high" wages that self-service was supposed to solve. Over the next sixty years, the use of the work transfer -- "self-service" in retailing -- facilitated a decline in sales skills and in the relative earnings of retail workers and increased temporary and parttime jobs. It also facilitated a change in the gender composition of the workforce, typically from men to women and eventually, in the racial and ethnic composition, from white, native-born to foreign-born persons and those of color. By 1960, a job notice might list a new set of qualifications:

Wanted: Female, white or perhaps of color, either youngish or near retirement age, preferably looking for supplementary rather than primary income; for part-time and perhaps temporary employment. Requires learning to use cash register, check validity of credit cards, process purchases and returns. No sales experience needed.

-68-

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Women's Paid and Unpaid Labor: The Work Transfer in Health Care and Retailing
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Tables vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Part One - Changes in Women's Lives 1
  • 1 - From Paid to Unpaid Work 3
  • 2 - The Work Transfer in the Service Economy 15
  • 3 - Women's Work: Linking Separate Spheres 29
  • Part Two - The Retail Trade Industry 47
  • 4 - The Restructuring of Retailing 49
  • 5 - From Salesclerk to Cashier 68
  • 6 - The Clerkless Customer: Doing Away with "Wasteful" Labor 87
  • Part Three - The Health Services Industry 107
  • 7 - Capital and Labor: Restructuring Health Services 109
  • 8 - Changing Hospital Work 134
  • 9 - Changing Home Care 154
  • 10 - The Home as Workshop: Amateur Nursing -- Medical Caregivers 178
  • 11 - Conclusions 204
  • Appendix, Notes, References, and Index 221
  • Appendix 223
  • Notes 231
  • References 241
  • Index 269
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