This dissertation examines how the paradoxical process takes place whereby women are both integrated and segregated within male-dominated sites of social action, here in the Swedish labor market, national economy and military during the First World War. The potential of the First World War to change the societal gender distribution of labor in Sweden is limited by the fact that Sweden was not a belligerent state, and that the mobilization of men thus was limited. It is in social planning activity, and in the general state of preparedness for war and crisis, that this study has sought to analyze contemporaneous understandings of womens’ "tasks" in times of war and crisis.
Earlier research has shown that women can be integrated in several different ways which can reproduce the gender order. This order can be re-created either in that women and men gain access to different "arenas" on different conditions, or in that women and men gain access to the same arena on different conditions (to mens’ advantage). From a gender-theoretical perspective, re-segregative integration is analyzed both at the level of conceptions and of practices. The study consists of three studies, regarding the domains of the labor market, the national economy (or economizing activity), and the military. The concept of the (social) task is used to capture those activities which voluntary organizations, the state, and/or womens’ organizations offered or enjoined/assigned to women in times of war and crisis.
Women were offered tasks in e.g. the military medical service and in war veterinary care services, within so-called "time expense economizing" activities organized for the economy’s household sector, and with sewing articles of uniform clothing for older reserve troops (the landstormen). In addition, plans were laid up (although never carried out in practice) whereby women in wartime could be called upon to fill the "gaps" in the labor market left by men mobilized into the armed forces.
In the domain of the labor market, womens’ integration was envisioned as taking place within an "extraordinary arena" on other conditions than those applying to men. Womens’ tasks were related to mens’ peacetime tasks, then being called "replacement work"; in relation to mens’ military service, placed into a context of "civil preparedness". In the domain of the national economy (or economizing activity), within the state National Economizing Commission, women were also integrated into a “special arena” on other conditions than those applying to men. Women were recruited into "womens’ administrations", or as the "only woman" to otherwise completely male-dominated administrations, and their tasks were limited to dealing with "the private households". In the domain of the military, women were still integrated into a "special arena" auxiliary to a male regular arena. Tasks were constituted as voluntary, were offered by voluntary organizations, and were focused on the provision of care services.
In all these societal domains, a qualitative difference was created between what men did and what women did, or were envisioned to do. Womens’ tasks were constituted as feminized tasks. The tasks were however designed in a way which both challenged and confirmed more traditional conceptions of the "male defender", the "male provider", and the "masculine state and public sphere". One can reason here in terms of the gender order’s having been maintained, despite integration. In theory or in practice, this was done by tasks being recontextualized, whereby the existing order was maintained. By placing womens’ tasks into another context, order was secured, enabling the claim that "nothing has really happened". This could be expressed by saying that, when the gender order is threatened, a type of "assisting logic" intervened which placed threatening phenomena into a new context: the consequence of this was that tasks which women did, or were to do, became diminished.
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2005. , 226 p.
national preparedness, gender and war, women and war, national service, gender division of labor, First World War
2005-05-19, hörsal 8, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)