Theorizing Women's Work


161 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-920059-57-0
DDC 331.4'01





Cynthia R. Comacchio is an assistant professor of History at Wilfrid
Laurier University in Waterloo.


The authors have made a considerable effort to analyze women’s
participation in the labor force. Their 1978 The Double Ghetto: Canadian
Women and Their Segregated Work contributed considerably to our
understanding of class and gender in Canadian society, and of the impact
of class and gender on the type of work women do and on the value—both
economic and social—that we ascribe it. In this book, Armstrong and
Armstrong continue their efforts, providing a critical analysis of
theoretical perspectives on women’s activities in both the formal and
the domestic economy. They are committed to ongoing theoretical debate
as a means of explaining the continuities and changes in women’s
socioeconomic position; persistent contradictions between ideology and
practice, and their effects in shaping women’s responses; and the
effects of class, ethnicity, race, and culture.

In addition to providing a critical overview of the literature in
various disciplines, suggesting theoretical directions, and supporting
the value of theory, the authors also argue for theory that is
accessible to as many people as possible. They themselves have helped
considerably in making many existing theories understandable. Despite
the complexity of the theoretical frameworks they have structured their
work so that the major questions, themes, and approaches are succinctly
delineated, although a few terms could stand further clarification.

Armstrong and Armstrong have restricted their field to English Canada,
noting British and U.S. influences on English-Canadian thought. Given
the burgeoning literature on women and work, and the increasing
complexities of approach and method, they are certainly justified in
placing these limits. Still, one hopes that a complementary analysis of
the French-Canadian literature will be forthcoming.

This book will be invaluable to those engaged in research and teaching
that touches on class and gender issues, as well as to those who wish to
keep abreast of theoretical trends in a wide range of disciplines.


Armstrong, Pat., “Theorizing Women's Work,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 23, 2024,