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Unprotected Labor: Household Workers, Politics, and Middle-Class Reform in New York, 1870-1940 Hardcover – June 1, 2011
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[A] well-researched, well-written monograph. . . . Highly recommended.
Upper-division undergraduates and above.--Choice
A tour de force of social history. By reading against the grain of her middle-class source base, May sheds light on the oft-neglected, day-to-day experiences of household workers. Meanwhile, she mounts a compelling and ambitious argument about their uniquely precarious location within the larger labor force, one with implications that extend far beyond the confines of New York City." --Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era
May's book is important even beyond its direct implications on household workers. . . . Especially relevant in an increasingly service-based and globalized economy--Labor Studies Journal
A convincing corrective.--Women's Review of Books
Unprotected Labor is one of those rare books that transforms how we think about a host of issues at the crossroads of women's history and labor history. Vanessa May has provided us with a superb account of the continual salience of 'public' and 'private' as discourse, space, and embodied experience. Class conflict in the home has found its scribe.--Eileen Boris, University of California, Santa Barbara
Vanessa May vividly depicts the contradictions and ironies inherent in the relationships of domestic workers and the women who employed them. She explores the ways in which domestic workers resisted exploitation and the irony of middle-class women who fought for reform for industrial workers but not for the workers in their own homes. Their failure shows the importance of the public-private divide and the limitations of liberal reform.--Rebecca Sharpless, Texas Christian University, author of Cooking in Other Women's Kitchens: Domestic Workers in the South, 1865-1960