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Negotiating Paternalism: Women and Canada's Largest Department Stores, 1890-1960

From: Journal of Women's History
Volume 19, Number 1, Spring 2007
pp. 58-81 | 10.1353/jowh.2007.0004


This article explores Canada's largest department stores' relationships with female shoppers and employees between 1890 and 1960. Showing that these giant retailers made paternalism central to their operations, it explains how they enforced broader hierarchies of gender, race, ethnicity, and class. This article contributes to historical understandings of women's relationships with mass retail by illuminating not only Canadian department stores' treatment of women, but also women's responses to such treatment. It also offers new perspectives on contemporary antiretailing movements by revealing areas of division and solidarity among shoppers and wage earners.

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