Abstract

Don Kalb analyses the changes taking place in the Brabant shoemaking industry in the early twentieth century in terms of class experience and protest, and the attempts that were made to articulate that experience of the hegemonic processes in play. The shoemakers' critique of the new morality of factory production was hidden within their labour union struggles for trade union recognition. The Catholic labour union's role displayed both the failure of Catholic discourse to articulate the workers' anxieties and the explosive popular action that occurred when the legitimacy of established capital/labour relations was questioned and under stress. Of particular significance was the position taken by the Catholic girls' union in relation to the girls' walk-out at van Schijndel's factory in Waalwijk in 1910, and the contradictions this raised between fathers seeking to provide a docile labour force and concern for the daughters that they brought into the shoe factory as stitchers.