The Limits of Patriarchy

The Limits of Patriarchy

By Laura Stark
Book Description

In the mid-19th century, letters to newspapers in Finland began to condemn a practice known as home thievery, in which farm mistresses pilfered goods from their farms to sell behind the farm master’s back. Why did farm mistresses engage home thievery and why were writers so harsh in their disapproval of it? Why did many men in their letters nonetheless sympathize with women’s pilfering? What opinions did farm daughters express?

This book explores theoretical concepts of agency and power applied to the 19th-century context and takes a closer look at the family patriarch, resistance to patriarchal power by farm mistresses and their daughters, and the identities of those Finnish men who already in the 1850s and 1860s sought to defend the rights of rural farm women.

This book is part of the Studia Fennica Ethnologica series.

Table of Contents
  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Notes on Translations and Referencing of Texts
  • I Background, Theory and Sources
    • 1. Introduction
      • Familial patriarchy
      • Gender relations within the farm household
      • Women’s practices behind the scenes as a challenge to familial patriarchy?
    • 2. Practices, Patriarchy and Power
      • Agency and cultural projects
      • Theorizing agency and social change
      • Household bargaining and hidden transcripts of resistance
    • 3. Rural Inhabitants’ Participation in the Nineteenth-Century Press
      • The earliest newspapers aimed at the rural public
      • Obstacles faced by rural writers
      • Editors as gatekeepers to the public sphere
      • Local power struggles and anonymity
      • Who were rural writers and what were their motives?
      • Tapio’s encouragement of female writers
      • Changing discourses on gender in the Finnish-language press of the 1850s and 1860s
    • 4. Source Materials and Methods
      • Ethical considerations
      • Newspapers
      • Published and archived ethnographic descriptions
      • Realistic ethnographic fiction
  • II Practices of Power in Everyday Life
    • 5. The Rise Of Rural Consumption and its Discontents
      • Coffee: the necessary luxury
      • New clothing styles and the critique of ostentation
      • Consumption and patriarchal power
    • 6. Home Thievery: A Moral Evil and Practical Dilemma
      • Ostentation and social competition
      • Home thievery in public discussion
      • The perilous consequences of home thievery
      • ‘Great sackfuls of clothing’: trousseaux and wedding gifts
      • Contested spheres of authority and women’s justifications for home thievery
    • 7. Female Gossip and ‘News Carrying’
      • Female gossips in written sources
      • Gossip as a welcome source of news
      • Gossips, ‘singers’ and news carriers
      • Putting news carriers to good use
      • The power of negative gossip
      • Gossip as a threat to the reputations of the youth
      • Gossip as a domain of intersecting cultural projects
  • III The Emergence of Public Discussion on Rural Gender in the Press
    • 8. Inheritance, Labour Incentives and the Value of Women’s Farm Work
      • The 1862 debate in Tapio
      • Inheritance as a labour incentive for sons
      • The question of farm women’s daily needs
      • Testaments and wills as an unjust circumvention of the law
      • Was home thievery silently approved of in rural communities?
      • Home thievery as a hidden labour incentive for daughters
    • 9. The Unenlightened Rural Patriarch
      • The patriarch and household members’ needs
      • The father and his children’s upbringing
      • The farm master and the rationalized household
      • The unenlightened patriarch as an obstacle to modern social reform
    • 10. Hidden Transcripts and the Limits of Rural Patriarchy
      • The spatial organization of resources and the practised hidden transcript
      • On the trail of the verbal hidden transcript
      • Who really perceived home thievery to be a problem in the countryside and why?
      • Cultural projects of the patriarch under threat
      • New perspectives on gender history
  • Appendix I: Map of Historical Provinces in Finland
  • Appendix II: Finnish-Language Newspaper Sources on Home Thievery
  • Archival Source Abbreviations
  • Unpublished Sources
  • Literature Cited
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