This article considers how women adopted a “scientific” statistical language at the end of the nineteenth century to draw attention to their role in the moral and social economy. It explores in particular the messages contained in La Statistique générale de la femme française, a series of eighteen murals that the moderate feminist Marie Pégard sent for exhibition at the Woman’s Building at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. The article begins by considering the place statistics held in France in the final decades of the century within the context of universal exhibitions. It then examines Pégard’s choice of quantified categories of social analysis to convey a sustained argument about the comparative weight of women in a modernizing French economy. The article seeks to understand how contemporaries read and interpreted the graphs, and how this mode of rendering visible the issue of women’s work played into the politics of an emerging feminist movement.
Reading the Graphs of Madame Pégard
Hélène Périvier and Rebecca Rogers
Krassimira Daskalova and Karen Offen
Sources translated and discussed: Vela Blagoeva, “Klasovo suznanie i feminism” (Class consciousness and feminism), Zhenski trud (Women’s labor) 1, no. 2 (1904–1905): 1–2; [Ana Karima], “Nie” (We), Ravnopravie (Equal rights) 1, no. 1 (November 1908): 1–2; [A. Karima], “Vnasiame li nie raztseplenie” (Do we divide the Union?) Ravnopravie 1, no. 3 (1908): 1–2.
Women, inequality, and social reproduction
This article offers a critical ethnography of the reproduction of elites and inequalities through the lenses of class and gender. The successful transfer of wealth from one generation to the next is increasingly a central concern for the very wealthy. This article shows how the labor of women from elite and non-elite backgrounds enables and facilitates the accumulation of wealth by elite men. From covering “the home front” to investing heavily in their children’s future, and engaging non-elite women’s labor to help them, the elite women featured here reproduced not just their families, but their families as elites. Meanwhile, the aff ective and emotional labor of non-elite women is essential for maintaining the position of wealth elites while also locking those same women into the increasing inequality they help to reproduce.