THE WORTH OF WIVES: 1950s Corporate America “Discovers” Spousal Social Capital

Christiane Diehl Taylor


Social capital is an asset that is generated by the relationship between individuals within a social structure. It allows individuals to achieve goals that are unachievable in its absence or achievable only at higher cost. Wives are a form of social capital, and although they have contributed to the success of their husbands and their firms ever since the nineteenth century, corporations only began to acknowledge their worth during the 1950s. This company recognition arose out of the prevalence of large corporations and bureaucratic practices, corporate decentralization, concerns over frill-employment and unionization, the emphasis on human relations, and the early rumblings of the modern-day womens movement.

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