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Female Agency in the Urban Economy: Gender in European Towns, 1640-1830,9780415537292
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Female Agency in the Urban Economy: Gender in European Towns, 1640-1830

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The three hundred year period between 1650 and 1950 traces the emergence, diversification, and developing hegemony of the town in the history of Europe. As places which fostered and disseminated key social, economic, political, and cultural developments, towns were central to the creation of gendered identities and the transmission of ideas across local, national, and transnational boundaries. This book, from a pan-European network of historians from twelve countries, examines the ways that the European urban experience was gendered over time and across borders. Situated in eighteenth-century urban culture, the chapters in this volume evaluate the economic activities and agency of women in these commercial communities. During the eighteenth century, commercial and capitalist culture broke down some of the corporate protection that men had traditionally enjoyed, replacing it with individual identity, class, and status. In this context, masculinity and femininity became areas for renegotiation. Women were often the majority in towns, which had particular implications for how they asserted themselves in and contributed to shaping the identity of towns. Thus this book addresses a number of questions which speak to how women specifically negotiated and articulated their relationship to the gendered urban economy. The book is an integrated collection of local studies, employing both quantitative and qualitative approaches, but with a very coherent approach. It is embedded in an urban / economic / gender approachwhich unites the chapters and which is drawn together by the editors in their introduction and afterword.

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