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Changing Domestic Roles among Polish Immigrant Women

Harriet Bloch
Anthropological Quarterly
Vol. 49, No. 1, Women and Migration (Special Issue) (Jan., 1976), pp. 3-10
DOI: 10.2307/3316834
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3316834
Page Count: 8
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Changing Domestic Roles among Polish Immigrant Women
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Abstract

In an effort to locate some of the main areas of continuity and change, this paper examines one aspect of the process of migration, the domestic role of women, in an agricultural village in southern Poland and among emigrants from this same village, now living in a Polish-American community in New Jersey, U.S.A. In the village there exists a striking equality between husband and wife. This is because: (1) the complex economic functions of women make them virtually indispensable in the daily operation of the house and farm; and (2) the traditional inheritance pattern of equal division among all children, with a portion given at marriage, make the young wife an economically equal partner in the marriage from the beginning. Migration brings about many changes. From their first day in the United States, men and women devote themselves to the goal of earning money. Economic equality and independence for women continues, but the change from family farming to wage labor greatly affects the domestic role of women. Family members no longer work together and thus do not interact all day. The role of the woman as the pivot of family life is greatly reduced. The great emphasis on the economic improvement of one's own family mitigates against any solidarity among women. Family and social life become limited and attenuated. Making money becomes everyone's main activity and concern.

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