Demons of Domesticity: Women and the English Gas Industry, 1889-1939

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Demons of Domesticity offers a social history of the English gas industry from the 1880s to the late 1930s, with an emphasis on the corporations that served London and the Home Counties. It documents the hitherto unexamined role that women played in the development of the industry by considering two major interlocking themes: the expansion of sales occupations for women in the English gas industry, and the parallel growth and diversification of the industry's marketing strategies. During the late-nineteenth century, the home became the focal point for a number of debates concerning female employment and gender roles. As an increasing number of labour saving domestic devices came onto the market women found themselves targeted by manufacturing companies and utility suppliers, both as consumers and advocates. Foremost among these companies were representatives of the gas industry who actively addressed domestic issues. As the promoters, purveyors and consumers of domestic technology, Demons of Domesticity suggests that English female employees and consumers were not the hapless dupes of corporate marketing, but instead had clear ideas about how domestic technology could and should be used to reconfigure the public and private spaces of work and home.