Ryan Nichols: Cal State University FullertonFootbinding refers to a historical practice of the Han Chinese involving, typically, the repeated ritual wrapping of the feet of young girls, often involving the breaking of toes, in an effort to create small. This presentation presents and discusses the Labor Market theory of footbinding (Brown et al. 2012; Bossen et al. 2011; Gates & Bossen, 2017; etc.). According to the Labor Market theory, footbinding’s maintenance over 1,000 years is explained as the product of a profit motive on the part of parents with daughters, whose sewing and weaving labor was possible only if their feet were bound. This theory asserts that footbinding’s origins and cessation are also explained due to forces regulating the market price of girls’ handicraft labor. The neo-Marxist Labor Market theory reigns as the most popular interdisciplinary explanation of footbinding. Despite this, a close study of its key findings reveals poor theoretical motivation, methodological problems, and repeated irregularities in use of accompanying data. Normally retesting a dataset would resolve many of these issues. However, Labor Market theory team members Melissa Brown, Hill Gates, and Laurel Bossen continue to decline requests by several scholars for access to their data.
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