Event—Scholarly Seminars

Lindsay Keiter, Pennsylvania State University-Altoona, and Kirsten Swinth, Fordham University


The Emergence of the ‘Marriage Market’ in America, Lindsay M. Keiter, Pennsylvania State University-Altoona

When did “the marriage market” enter the American lexicon? This paper demonstrates that this idea emerged amid the rapid economic expansion of the early nineteenth century. Americans increasingly described courtship in terms of supply and demand, choice, and competition. Yet even as they referred to the marriage market, with its impersonal implications, many Americans resisted its complete commodification. The metaphor of the marriage market reflected tension between the continued legal reality of marriage as a property relation with new ideals of romantic love.

Capitalism and the Rise and Fall of the Male Breadwinner Family, Kirsten Swinth, Fordham University

There is a missing variable in the new histories of capitalism: the family. To unearth the relationship between capitalist development and family structure, this paper revisits feminist family history of the late 1970s, digs into a 1990s historiographical moment where “the rise and decline of the male breadwinner family” became a subject of contention, and then turns to my work on the rise of the “working family” in conjunction with a post-Fordist, postindustrial, service-driven U.S. economy. My analysis reframes recent interest in “carework,” social reproduction, and domestic labor to highlight the interdependency of capitalist employment systems and family roles.

Respondent Kristin Celello, CUNY Queens College