What Was the Domestic System?

The domestic system, which was also known as the putting-out system, was a widespread production system in 17th-century Western Europe. Merchants and employers “put out” materials to rural producers that usually worked at creating the finished product at home.

In addition to working at home, producers worked in workshops or gave the work to others to perform. Once the work was complete, the producers would return the finished products to the merchant or employer, who in turn paid the producer for each finished product or a set wage. The domestic system became mostly replaced by factory work during the Industrial Revolution, but some industries continued to utilize this system into the 20th century.