Working and caring
Women’s labour inside and outside the home
in Modern motherhood
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Women in post-war England lived through a reconceptualisation of women’s work. Attitudes towards working mothers were often contradictory though. The chapter therefore uncovers the deep ambivalence which has characterised women’s attitudes towards their participation in the labour force throughout the second half of the century. It investigates how the interviewees combined paid labour and motherhood in the course of their lives and how society perceived them. It also addresses how important class and levels of education were in determining women’s attitudes towards, and experiences of, work. Both paid work and motherhood were conceived of as ways in which autonomy could be gained for women in the post-war world. Furthermore, influenced by the discourses of contemporary feminism which were influential from the 1970s, women came to speak of their desire to gain independence through work, whether this was inside or outside the home.

Modern motherhood

Women and family in England, c. 1945–2000

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