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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

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Matthys, Christa. “Discourses versus Life Courses: Servants’ Extramarital Sexual Activities in Flanders during the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries.” JOURNAL OF URBAN HISTORY, edited by Ariadne Schmidt et al., vol. 42, no. 1, 2016, pp. 81–100.
APA
Matthys, C. (2016). Discourses versus life courses: servants’ extramarital sexual activities in Flanders during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. JOURNAL OF URBAN HISTORY, 42(1), 81–100.
Chicago author-date
Matthys, Christa. 2016. “Discourses versus Life Courses: Servants’ Extramarital Sexual Activities in Flanders during the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries.” Edited by Ariadne Schmidt, Julie De Groot, and Isabelle Devos. JOURNAL OF URBAN HISTORY 42 (1): 81–100.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Matthys, Christa. 2016. “Discourses versus Life Courses: Servants’ Extramarital Sexual Activities in Flanders during the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries.” Ed by. Ariadne Schmidt, Julie De Groot, and Isabelle Devos. 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.
IEEE
[1]
C. Matthys, “Discourses versus life courses: servants’ extramarital sexual activities in Flanders during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,” JOURNAL OF URBAN HISTORY, vol. 42, no. 1, pp. 81–100, 2016.
@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},
  keywords     = {extramarital fertility,domestic servants,life course analysis,narratives,Flanders},
  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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