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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Neue Beiträge zur Sozialgeschichte
Volume (Issue) 32((=Neue Beiträge zur Sozialgeschichte))
Page(s) 133 - 154
Title of proceedings Neue Beiträge zur Sozialgeschichte


This paper sets out to challenge the idea that gainful occupation has always been the central concern of feminist politics and the central condition of women’s emancipation. I offer a close reading of discussions about women’s work and education within the Schweizerischer Gemeinnütziger Frauenverein (Swiss Women’s Charitable Association, SGF) around 1900. The ideas and arguments put forward by women associated with the SGF invoked varying conceptualizations of love, experience, customs, progress, rationality, and citizenship. A careful examination of this past context of meanings centering on the concept of female labor enables us to defamiliarize present-day convictions, and may help us to ask new questions for a future feminist politics of work.