Working lives
in Civvies
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This chapter argues that the pressures of war led many to reassess the 'value' of their work in a wartime society, with the slippery concept of work of 'national importance'. The concept of 'national work' provides a new benchmark against which men sought to measure themselves. The chapter considers the impact on working lives of wartime regulations, as well as of the vicissitudes. It deals with the ideal of work that contributed to the war effort and closes with its polar opposite: work that it was thought allowed certain individuals to 'profiteer' from the calamity of war. The chapter examines the problems and opportunities that were particularly associated with the world of business. There is little doubt that middle-class working lives were deeply affected by wartime shortages of labour. Shortages occurred not only among working-class 'hands', but also white-collar and middle-class occupations.


Middle-class men on the English Home Front, 1914–18


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