The Philippines censuses of 1903 and 1939 and the representation of women's occupations

Sloane, Fiona Margaret (2002) The Philippines censuses of 1903 and 1939 and the representation of women's occupations. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Abstract

Long-held doubts about the 1903 Philippines Census occupation statistics suggest that the data for women were technically defective and misrepresented their employment. Despite that uncertainty, interpretations of the 1939 Census tend to agree that a transformation of women's occupations occurred over the period. In this view, the data showed that women moved fiom small-scale, home-based, textile manufacture into agriculture and domestic service, or withdrew from the labour market. Revised opinions of the social construction, subjectivity and rhetoric of historical documents emphasise authorial power and intentions. Benedict Anderson, for example, proposes that the colonial census instrument created a mythical society to reinforce pre-conceived ideas of racial and economic superiority. Others contend that male concepts of identification, measurement and classification of occupations ignored women's economic contribution and confirmed their dependency. Recent feminist literature sees women not as victims, but as active agents in their own lives and therefore, able to influence a census. Having regard to this literature, this inquiry looks again at the 1903 and 1939 Philippines Censuses and the representations of women's occupations. By investigating the context of the 1903 Census, it is possible to test Anderson's hypothesis. Findings include points of agreement about Census style and subjectivity, but I argue that we cannot prove colonial intentions by the Census Office or the Census author, or attribute the purpose to the concept of colonialism. The inquiry then hypothesises that misrepresentation of women's occupations in the data was a likely consequence of U.S. Census Bureau management of the occupation statistics, and that the distortion was sufficient to influence perceptions of structural change. An examination of the probable structures and application of the occupation criteria fails to remove the uncertainty about the classification of occupations in 1903, but presents a tentative new interpretation of the 1939 Census. Detailed examination of selected occupations tends to support a claim that the form of the Census accounts might have contributed to the view that there was structural change in women's occupations, but distortion of the data is unverifiable. Although my hypothesis is unproven, the inquiry helps clarify reasons for the uncertainty and for some contradictions in the data, and it shows that the data were more complex than previously considered. The distinctive character of the Philippines occupation data and possible connections to U.S. Census Bureau events suggest that we might view the 1903 and 1939 Philippines Censuses as experimental exercises in the evolution of occupation statistics. The Philippines accounts represented flawed and illogical but material steps in the development of a statistical recognition of women's economic contribution to society.

Item ID: 86
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Philippines , Philippines Census 1903, Philippines Census 1939, Occupation statistics, Women's occupations
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2006
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160805 Social Change @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160810 Urban Sociology and Community Studies @ 50%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950409 Workplace and Organisational Ethics @ 100%
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