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Laura C. Johnson.

Toronto, Women's Press, c1982.
135pp, paper, $7.95.
ISBN 0-88961-072-X.

Grades 9 and up.
Reviewed by Jacqueline Foerter.

Volume 11 Number 1.
1983 January.

Several newspaper articles have exposed this injustice to women in the work force, but The Seam Allowance documents fully the industrial home sewing problem. In her position as sociologist at the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto, Laura C. Johnson became aware of the practice of homework in connection with a study of children's day-care that she and Janice Dineen wrote entitled The Kin Trade. Door-to-door research revealed that many immigrant mothers of young children were sewing at home and simultaneously caring for their children.

Fifty interviews, usually with the aid of an interpreter, revealed overworked, underpaid, grossly mistreated, and frightened women. Reminiscent of the nineteenth-century sweatshops, described in the second chapter by Robert E. Johnson, the stories of some of these 100,000 women in Canada are an embarrassment to present-day unions, governments, and social movements. Attempts made to solve the problem have been ineffective because the system preys on the weak and underprivileged. The author's purpose to unsettle the reader has undoubtedly been met.

Although government officials, labour leaders, and employers are interviewed, the study is definitely the story of the workers and not that of the manufacturer.

Enhanced by appropriate photographs and clear layout and print, the text is easy-to-read and well-organized with a table of contents, chapter and topic headings, and bibliography. This comprehensive study of a neglected segment of the work force would be an excellent source book for sociology, life skills, law, and history courses as well as thought-provoking material for leisure reading.

Jacqueline Foerter, Brant ford C. I. & V. S., Brant ford, ON.
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