Giving Life and Limb for Empire – Irish Historical Studies
This article explores the myriad of health hazards and dangers faced by industrial workers in Belfast between 1870 and 1914, as well as the efforts made by reformers and legislators to protect them. The article uses a variety of official sources to demonstrate the varying and distinctly gendered experience of men, women, and children working in the factories, mills, and shipyards of the city, as well as the gendered nature of the legislation put in place in this period. The article argues that the societal norms and expectations that informed legislation contributed to the gender gap that emerged in protective legislation. Female workers were seen in the same category as children and were protected paternalistically by a state still grappling with the changing position of women in an industrialising society, while men were expected to face ‘bravely’ the dangers of industrial work with little or no state intervention.
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