GMAT Test Prep: RC-84992337 GMAT Reading Comprehension

In an unfinished but highly suggestive series of essays, the late Sarah Eisentein has focusedattention on the evolution of working women's values from the turn of the century to the FirstWorld War. Eisenstein argues that turn-of-the-century women neither wholly accepted nor rejectedwhat she calls the dominant "ideology of domesticity," but rather took this and other availableideologies-feminism, socialism, trade unionism-and modified or adapted them in light of their wonexperiences and needs. In thus maintaining that wages-work helped to produce a new"consciousness" among women, Eisenstein to some extent challenges the recent, controversialproposal by Leslie Tentler that for women the work experience only served to reinforce theattractiveness of the dominant ideology. According to the Tentler, the degrading conditions underwhich many female wage earners worked made them view the family as a source of power andesteem available nowhere else in their social world. In contrast, Eisenstein's study insists thatwage-work had other implications for women's identities and consciousness. Most importantly,her work aims to demonstrate that wage-work enabled women to become aware of themselves as adistinct social group capable of defining their collective circumstance. Eisenstein insists that as agroup working-class women were not able to come to collective consciousness of their situationuntil they began entering the labor force, because domestic work tended to isolate them from oneanother.

Unfortunately, Eisenstein's unfinished study does not develop these ideas in sufficient depth ordetail, offering tantalizing hints rather than an exhaustive analysis. Whatever Eisenstein's overallplan may have been, in its current form her study suffers from the limited nature of the sources shedepended on. She use the speeches and writings of reformers and labor organizers, who sheacknowledges were far from representative, as the voice of the typical woman worker. And thereis less than adequate attention given to the differing values of immigrant groups that made up asignificant proportion of the population under investigation. While raising important questions,Eisenstein's essays do not provide definitive answer, and it remains for others to take up thechallenges they offer.
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The primary purpose of the passage is to