In an unfinished but highly suggestive series of essays, the late Sarah Eisenstein has focused attention on the evolution of working women’s values from the turn of the century to the First World War. Eisenstein argues that turn-of-the-century women neither wholly accepted nor rejected what she calls the dominant “ideology of domesticity,” but rather took this and other available ideologies—feminism, socialism, trade unionism —and modified or adapted them in light of their own experiences and needs. In thus maintaining that wage-work helped to produce a new “consciousness” among women, Eisenstein to some extent ) challenges the recent, controversial proposal by Leslie Tentler that for women the work experience only served to reinforce the attractiveness of the dominant ideology. According to the Tentler, the degrading conditions under which many female wage earners worked made them view the family as a source of power and esteem available nowhere else in their social world. In contrast, Eisenstein’s study insists that wage-work had other implications for women’s identities and consciousness. Most importantly, her work aims to demonstrate that wage-work enabled women to become aware of themselves as a distinct social group capable of defining their collective circumstance. Eisenstein insists that as a group working-class women were not able to come to collective consciousness of their situation until they began entering the labor force, because domestic work tended to isolate them from one another.
Unfortunately, Eisenstein’s unfinished study does not develop these ideas in sufficient depth or detail, offering tantalizing hints rather than an exhaustive analysis. Whatever Eisenstein’s overall plan may have been, in its current form her study suffers from the limited nature of the sources she depended on. She uses the speeches and writings of reformers and labor organizers, who she acknowledges were far from representative, as the voice of the typical woman worker. And there is less than adequate attention given to the differing values of immigrant groups that made up a significant proportion of the population under investigation. While raising important questions, Eisenstein’s essays do not provide definitive answer, and it remains for others to take up the challenges they offer.
Question: The primary purpose of the passage is to
- criticize a scholar’s assumptions and methodology
- evaluate an approach to women’s study
- compare two sociological theories
- correct a misconception about feminist theory
- defend an unpopular ideology
Question: It can be inferred from the passage that, in Eisenstein’s view, working women at the turn of the century had which of the following attitudes toward the dominant ideology of their time?
- They resented the dominant ideology as degrading.
- They preferred the dominant ideology to other available ideologies.
- They began to view the dominant ideology more favorably as a result of their experiences in the labor force.
- They accepted some but not all aspects of the dominant ideology.
- They believed that the dominant ideology isolated them from one another.
Question: Which of the following best describes the organization of the first paragraph of the passage?
- A chronological account of a historical development is presented, and then future developments are predicted.
- A term is defined according to several different schools of thought, and then a new definition is formulated.
- A theory is presented, an alternative viewpoint is introduced, and then the reasoning behind the initial theory is summarized.
- A tentative proposal is made, reasons for and against it are weighed, and then a modified version of the proposal is offered.
- A controversy is described, its historical implications are assessed, and then a compromise is suggested.
Question: Which of the following would the author of the passage be most likely to approve as a continuation of Eisenstein’s study?
- An oral history of prominent women labor organizers
- An analysis of letters and diaries written by typical female wage earners at the turn of the century
- An assessment of what different social and political groups defined as the dominant ideology in the early twentieth century
- A theoretical study of how socialism and feminism influenced one another at the turn of the century
- A documentary account of labor’s role in the introduction of women into the labor force
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