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UNIT 19: Global Industrialization

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VIDEO SEGMENT: The Silk Industry of Japan: Gender and Industrialization

Industrialization resulted in social upheaval and change wherever it occurred. In many cases, the impact of those changes were especially profound for women. This segment looks at the industrialization of Japan's silk industry in the wake of the Meiji Restoration of 1868 as a way of exploring the relationship between gender and industrialism.

Meiji policies encouraged rapid industrialization, and as a result many factories were built in the silk-producing regions of Japan. These factories attracted large numbers of very young women, who were required to work long hours in dismal conditions, and to live in unsanitary dormitories. Moreover, women were allocated the most menial, monotonous jobs in the factories, while the more specialized jobs were reserved for men. This unequal division of labor was reflected in unequal pay-so even though women came to dominate the workforce of the Japanese silk industry by the end of the nineteenth century, their wages remained much lower than men's wages well into the twentieth century.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


E.R. Dumont, EMPEROR MEIJI OF JAPAN (1904). Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Anonymous, MELANGE OF VEHICLES (1870). Courtesy of Library of Congress.


Utagawa Hiroshige, SECOND NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL EXHIBITION AT UENO PARK, JAPAN (1881). Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Anonymous Japanese, SILKWORM FACTORY (ca. 1880-1920). Courtesy of Photo Japan/Kenneth Hamm.



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