Supply of labour during early industrialization. Agricultural systems, textile factory work and gender in Japan and India, ca. 1880-1940 (ONLINE)

On invitation of the Rural and Environmental History Group, Aditi Dixit and Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk from Utrecht University will give an online seminar on May 12, 2020. To attend, please register via email

Organised by Rural and Environmental History

Tue 12 May 2020 14:00 to 15:00

Venue Online with Zoom
This paper explores causes of the marked differences in the gender division of labour in the early emerging textile factories in Japan and India in the first half of the twentieth century. In Japan, the overwhelming majority of the workers in spinning mills were young, unmarried women, while in India men – married as well as unmarried – formed the bulk of the factory textile workforce. We argue that an important factor explaining part of these differences in gender patterns in textile factory work are variations in agrarian systems and labour regimes therein. The structural differences in the productivity, intensity, and the social organization of labour in agricultural economies in both countries led to notable variances in the gender composition of the supply of (rural) labour for the factories. Differential deployment of rural farm and non-farm labour, in combination with distinct labour recruitment practices in the countryside, caused rural households to adopt radically different income-generating strategies.