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The Problems of Working Class Women

The marital life of the working class woman is characterized by lack of financial resources and stress. Unable to secure meaningful, lucrative employment herself, the working class woman must rely on the earning power of her husband. When money is tight, these women are forced to handle the daily grind of family finances. Little latitude exists in deciding how salaries are to be allocated to outstanding bills because there is rarely enough to go around: "Decisions, then, are limited to which bills to pay now, which can be deferred--in effect, to assessing the best strategy for juggling the creditors" (Rubin, 1992, p. 107). When, and if, the working class family is able to secure a better standard of living, buying decisions generally shift from wife to husband. Thus the working class wife rarely exerts power in the household. When the family is poor it is she who must face the bill collectors and figure out how to stretch the limited financial resources. She assumes the worries and the stresses that accompany managing a home with so little money. Working class husbands do not mind putting their wives in such binds because it frees them of the shame of not earning enough money to adequately support their families. As the family's standard of living increases, the husband manages the money. Therefore, working class men retain their household dominance regardless of the income level.

Working class women are severely limited in their productive and emotional choices and in the realization of their potential. Sennett and Cobb (1972) argue that these limitations define the modern version of low-level work, "the kind of work where people do not feel they express enough that is unique in themselves to win others' respect as individuals" (p. 74). Sharp distinctions are drawn in society between people who exercise control over their working and personal lives and those who do not. Working class women fall into the former catego...

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The Problems of Working Class Women. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:38, August 19, 2017, from
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