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Discourses versus life courses: servants' extramarital sexual activities in Flanders during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

Christa Matthys (UGent)
(2016) JOURNAL OF URBAN HISTORY. 42(1). p.81-100
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Abstract
This article combines qualitative and quantitative analysis to study the effect of rural-urban migration on the sexual behavior of servants in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Flanders. In the qualitative part, I compare various discourses on servants' extramarital behavior to sketch the ideological context which affected women's agency. Contemporaries were commonly convinced that urban servants more often became pregnant out-of-wedlock than other women, but disagreed on the causes for this: vulnerability or immorality. In the quantitative part, I use life course analysis to determine differences in the behavioral patterns of servants and women who were never servants. Looking both at extramarital fertility and at marriage behavior, I argue that servants were slightly more risk-taking when entering into extramarital relationships. With this mixed-methods approach, this article avoids one-dimensional readings of the sources, and I challenge the dichotomous use of concepts that are too basic to comprehend the complexity of extramarital sexual behavior.
Keywords
extramarital fertility, domestic servants, life course analysis, narratives, Flanders

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Citation

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Chicago
Matthys, Christa. 2016. “Discourses Versus Life Courses: Servants’ Extramarital Sexual Activities in Flanders During the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries.” Ed. Ariadne Schmidt, Julie De Groot, and Isabelle Devos. Journal of Urban History 42 (1): 81–100.
APA
Matthys, Christa. (2016). Discourses versus life courses: servants’ extramarital sexual activities in Flanders during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. (Ariadne Schmidt, J. De Groot, & I. Devos, Eds.)JOURNAL OF URBAN HISTORY, 42(1), 81–100.
Vancouver
1.
Matthys C. Discourses versus life courses: servants’ extramarital sexual activities in Flanders during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Schmidt A, De Groot J, Devos I, editors. JOURNAL OF URBAN HISTORY. 2016;42(1):81–100.
MLA
Matthys, Christa. “Discourses Versus Life Courses: Servants’ Extramarital Sexual Activities in Flanders During the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries.” Ed. Ariadne Schmidt, Julie De Groot, & Isabelle Devos. JOURNAL OF URBAN HISTORY 42.1 (2016): 81–100. Print.
@article{4224740,
  abstract     = {This article combines qualitative and quantitative analysis to study the effect of rural-urban migration on the sexual behavior of servants in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Flanders. In the qualitative part, I compare various discourses on servants' extramarital behavior to sketch the ideological context which affected women's agency. Contemporaries were commonly convinced that urban servants more often became pregnant out-of-wedlock than other women, but disagreed on the causes for this: vulnerability or immorality. In the quantitative part, I use life course analysis to determine differences in the behavioral patterns of servants and women who were never servants. Looking both at extramarital fertility and at marriage behavior, I argue that servants were slightly more risk-taking when entering into extramarital relationships. With this mixed-methods approach, this article avoids one-dimensional readings of the sources, and I challenge the dichotomous use of concepts that are too basic to comprehend the complexity of extramarital sexual behavior.},
  author       = {Matthys, Christa},
  editor       = {Schmidt, Ariadne  and De Groot, Julie and Devos, Isabelle},
  issn         = {0096-1442},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF URBAN HISTORY},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {81--100},
  title        = {Discourses versus life courses: servants' extramarital sexual activities in Flanders during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0096144215611096},
  volume       = {42},
  year         = {2016},
}

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