Clarisse Berthezène
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The middlebrow and the making of a ‘new common sense’
Women’s voluntarism, Conservative politics and representations of womanhood
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Historians have had a tendency to oppose what is seen as Conservatism's positive appeal that is its historic capacity to construct political identities and assimilate diverse constituencies of support with the Conservative Party's more negative anti-socialist strategy. This chapter shows that both appeals were part and parcel of the same overall Conservative response to the political challenges of the interwar period. It examines how the deliberate choice of middlebrow rhetoric as well as the language of citizenship enabled Conservative women to construct a cross-class language of democracy. Tapping into the Conservative Party's self-identified anti-intellectualism was another strategy for women to appropriate a specific place for themselves within the Party. The Women's Voluntary Services (WVS), set up in 1938 by Lady Reading at the request of the Home Office, had over a million volunteers at the height of the war and was crucial in supporting the war effort.

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Rethinking right-wing women

Gender and the Conservative Party, 1880s to the present


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