The Business of Housekeeping: The Mistress, the Domestic Worker, and the Construction of Class

The Business of Housekeeping: The Mistress, the Domestic Worker, and the Construction of Class laurie ousley trocaire College At the outset of A Treatise on Domestic Economy, Catharine beecher, one of the most prominent of American domestic economists, explains the political structure of America in order to lay the groundwork for her prescriptions for the American home. She explains that, as both the principles of democracy and Christianity have established, "each individual of our race shall regard the happiness of others, as of the same value as his own; and . . . forbid any institution, in private or civil life, which secures advantages to one class, by sacrificing the interests of another" (2). "the institutions of monarchical and aristocratic nations," beecher adds, "are based on precisely opposite principles" (3). American women have the power to choose their husbands, and domestics, artisans, and laborers the power to choose their employers. Americans choose their superiors: "Each subject . . . has equal power with every other, to decide who shall be his superior as a ruler" (3). in "private or civil life," dependence on and deference to superiors is voluntary, and "each individual may pursue and secure the highest degree of happiness within his reach, unimpeded by the selfish interests of others" (2). http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Legacy University of Nebraska Press

The Business of Housekeeping: The Mistress, the Domestic Worker, and the Construction of Class

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Abstract

laurie ousley trocaire College At the outset of A Treatise on Domestic Economy, Catharine beecher, one of the most prominent of American domestic economists, explains the political structure of America in order to lay the groundwork for her prescriptions for the American home. She explains that, as both the principles of democracy and Christianity have established, "each individual of our race shall regard the happiness of others, as of the same value as his own; and . . . forbid any institution, in private or civil life, which secures advantages to one class, by sacrificing the interests of another" (2). "the institutions of monarchical and aristocratic nations," beecher adds, "are based on precisely opposite principles" (3). American women have the power to choose their husbands, and domestics, artisans, and laborers the power to choose their employers. Americans choose their superiors: "Each subject . . . has equal power with every other, to decide who shall be his superior as a ruler" (3). in "private or civil life," dependence on and deference to superiors is voluntary, and "each individual may pursue and secure the highest degree of happiness within his reach, unimpeded by the selfish interests of others" (2).

Journal

LegacyUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Dec 20, 2006

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