domestic system

domestic system

Production system widespread in 17th-century Europe in which merchant-employers “put out” materials to rural home workers, who then returned finished products to the employers for payment. The domestic system differed from the handicraft system of home production in that the workers neither bought materials nor sold products. It undermined the urban guilds and brought the first widespread industrial employment of women and children. The system was generally superseded by employment in factories but was retained in the 20th century in some industries, notably watchmaking in Switzerland, toy manufacturing in Germany, and many industries in India and China.


domestic system or putting-out system

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on domestic system, visit

Seen & Heard

What made you look up domestic system? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.