The era of the housewife? The construction of 'work' and the 'active' population in the Belgian population census (1947, 1961 & 1970).
The 1950s are often considered the era of the housewife as both a practice and an ideology. The available statistics support this interpretation: very few married women worked during the 1940s and 1950s, and female employment increased rapidly from the 1970s onwards. However, a gender analysis of the language of the Belgian post-war censuses (1947, 1961 & 1970) and of the concepts behind those numbers reveals that the censuses tell us more about the contemporary definition of work, than about female labour participation.