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This book draws on original research into women’s workplace protest to deliver a new account of working-class women’s political identity and participation in post-war England. In doing so, the book contributes a fresh understanding of the relationship between feminism, workplace activism and trade unionism during the years 1968–85. The study covers a period that has been identified with the ‘zenith’ of trade union militancy. The women’s liberation movement (WLM) also emerged in this period, which produced a shift in public debates about gender roles and relations in the home and the workplace. Industrial disputes involving working-class women have been commonly understood as evidence of women’s growing participation in the labour movement, and as evidence of the influence of second-wave feminism on working-class women’s political consciousness. However, the voices and experiences of female workers who engaged in workplace protest remain largely unexplored. The book addresses this space through detailed analysis of four industrial disputes that were instigated by working-class women. It shows that labour force participation was often experienced or viewed as a claim to political citizenship in late modern England. A combination of oral history and written sources is used to illuminate how everyday experiences of gender and class antagonism shaped working-class women’s political identity and participation.
This book provides the first group portrait of the late Victorian and Edwardian feminists and socialists who campaigned against the moral conservatism of Victorian Scotland. They include Bella and Charles Bream Pearce, prominent Glasgow socialists and disciples of an American-based mystic who taught that religion needed to be ‘re-sexed’; Jane Hume Clapperton, a feminist freethinker with advanced views on birth control and women’s right to sexual pleasure; and Patrick Geddes, founder of an avant-garde Edinburgh subculture and co-author of an influential scientific book on sex. The consideration of their lives and work undertaken here forces a reappraisal of our understanding of sexual progressivism in Britain in a number of important ways. It affirms that a precondition of ‘speaking out’ about sex was the rejection of orthodox Christianity, with alternative forms of belief providing spaces in which a new morality could be fashioned. It disrupts the long-standing perception of the fin de siècle as an era of generational challenge, highlighting the importance of considering older radicalisms, such as freethought. Finally, it emphasises the regulatory role played by socialist and feminist organisations, reluctant to reinscribe past associations between political radicalism and immorality. This meant that despite their reforming zeal, Scotland’s sexual progressives often adhered to respectable norms, deferring their reimagined intimate relationships to an idealised future.
Home economics offers an innovative, comparative history of domestic service in southern Africa’s post-colonial cities. Focusing on Lusaka and drawing wider comparisons, it provides the first in-depth study of domestic service in Black households in the region. Drawing on rich oral histories and diverse documentary sources, it develops a new theoretical approach which, for the first time, brings wage and kin-based domestic labour and child and adult workers into a single frame of analysis. In so doing, it challenges the narrow focus of existing scholarship and policymaking and breaks new ground in the theorisation of work. The book traces how Black employers and workers adapted existing models of domestic service rooted in colonial labour relations and African kinship structures, revealing how waged domestic service was gradually undermined by increased reliance on extended family networks and the labour of young female kin. It demonstrates how women and girls pursued employment in and came to dominate both kin-based and waged domestic service. It also explores efforts to regulate and organise these largely informal and intimate forms of work, and the gendered and generational impacts of such interventions. This rich and timely study provides essential insights into the nature of gender, work, and urban economies across southern Africa. It reveals the strategies that children, women, and men have pursued to support themselves and their dependants in the face of economic decline, precarious employment, and stark inequalities, and shows how gender, age, class, and kinship have shaped work within and beyond the home.
This book examines women’s experiences of motherhood in England in the years between 1945 and 2000. Based on a new body of 160 oral history interviews, the book offers the first comprehensive historical study of the experience of motherhood in the second half of the twentieth century. Motherhood is an area where a number of discourses and practices meet. The book therefore forms a thematic study looking at aspects of mothers’ lives such as education, health care, psychology, labour market trends and state intervention. Looking through the prism of motherhood provides a way of understanding the complex social changes that have taken place in the post-war world. This book will be essential reading for students and researchers in the field of twentieth-century British social history. However it will also be of interest to scholars in related fields and a general readership with an interest in British social history, and the history of family and community in modern Britain.
Through an analysis of the correspondence of over one hundred couples from the Scottish elites across the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, this book explores how ideas around the nature of emotional intimacy, love, and friendship within marriage adapted to a modernising economy and society, in turn shaping how power was negotiated between partners across the period. A feminist methodology is used to highlight how patriarchal values moulded the nature of the marital relationship, affecting how men and women perceived their role within it and how they understood married life. The book argues that patriarchy continued to be the central model for marriage across the period as couples found ways to negotiate its strictures to make it compatible with their personal experiences. As a result, women found spaces to hold power within the family, but could not translate it to power beyond the household. Comparing the Scottish experience to that across Europe and North America, the book shows that over the course of the eighteenth century, far from being a side-note in European history, Scottish ideas about gender and marriage were to become culturally dominant.
Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy (1833–1918) was one of the most significant pioneers of the British women's emancipation movement, though her importance is little recognised. Wolstenholme Elmy referred to herself as an ‘initiator’ of movements, and she was at the heart of every campaign Victorian feminists conducted — her most well-known position being that of secretary of the Married Women's Property Committee from 1867–82. A fierce advocate of human rights, as the secretary of the Vigilance Association for the Defence of Personal Rights, Wolstenholme Elmy earned the nickname of the ‘parliamentary watch-dog’ from Members of Parliament anxious to escape her persistent lobbying. Also a feminist theorist, she believed wholeheartedly in the rights of women to freedom of their person, and was the first woman ever to speak from a British stage on the sensitive topic of conjugal rape. Wolstenholme Elmy engaged theoretically with the rights of the disenfranchised to exert force in pursuit of the vote, and Emmeline Pankhurst lauded her as ‘first’ among the infamous suffragettes of the Women's Social and Political Union. As a lifelong pacifist, however, she resigned from the WSPU Executive in the wake of increasingly violent activity from 1912. A prolific correspondent, journalist, speaker and political critic, Wolstenholme Elmy left significant resources, believing they ‘might be of value’ to historians. This book draws on a great deal of this documentation to produce a portrait that does justice to her achievements as a lifelong ‘Insurgent woman’.
Women before the court: Law and patriarchy in the Anglo-American World, 1600–1800 is a ground-breaking study of women in Britain and British America. Drawing from archival sources from both sides of the Atlantic, it offers an innovative, comparative approach to the study of women’s legal rights during a formative period of Anglo-American law. It traces how colonists transplanted English legal institutions to America, examines the remarkable depth of women’s legal knowledge, and shows how the law increasingly undermined patriarchal relationships between parents and children, masters and servants, and husbands and wives. While in the seventeenth century these relationships had been defined by mutual obligations of authority and submission, the economic and legal developments of the eighteenth century gave women increasing opportunities to break the patriarchal mould. This book will be of interest to scholars of Britain and colonial America, students of legal history and to laypeople interested in how women navigated and negotiated the structures of authority that governed them in the past. It is packed with fascinating (and sometimes shocking) stories that women related to the courts in cases ranging from murder and abuse to debt and estate litigation. This study adds a valuable contribution to our understandings of law, power and gender in the early modern world.
Distant Sisters offers a new history of the connections that women in Australia and New Zealand made with one another, and suffragists across the world, in their pioneer pursuit of the vote and subsequent struggle to sell its merits overseas. Although the Australasian suffrage campaigns occurred side by side and shared a commitment to international outreach, this book is the first to take these parallels seriously. Beyond recovering a forgotten regional history, it uses antipodean stories to explore the rise of suffrage internationalism in the late nineteenth century and, importantly, to understand its political, geographical, and racial limits. Covering the period 1880–1914, it charts the development of an international consciousness among elite and ordinary suffragists alike. Following the conduits that allowed them to think and act across borders, it shows how Australasian suffragists positioned themselves within the emerging international women’s movement and shaped organisations like the International Woman Suffrage Alliance and World’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Simultaneously, Distant Sisters unveils the intimate dimensions of internationalism, showing how sentiments ignited by the exchange of letters and newspapers, and preserved in scrapbooks, led the Australasian suffragists to grace British concert halls and receive invitations to the US Oval Office. While often frustrated, their attempts to forge meaningful intercolonial and international connections complicate insular national histories of suffrage and the orthodox Euro-American narrative of fin-de-siècle feminist internationalism. Written in an approachable, case-study driven style, this book will appeal to undergraduates and academic specialists in the fields of feminist history, British imperial history, and Australian and New Zealand studies alike.
This original and fresh approach to the emotions of adolescence focuses on the leisure lives of working-class boys and young men in the inter-war years. Being Boys challenges many stereotypes about their behaviour. It offers new perspectives on familiar and important themes in interwar social and cultural history, ranging from the cinema and mass consumption to boys' clubs, personal advice pages, street cultures, dancing, sexuality, mobility and the body. It draws on many autobiographies and personal accounts and is particularly distinctive in offering an unusual insight into working-class adolescence through the teenage diaries of the author's father, which are interwoven with the book's broader analysis of contemporary leisure developments. Being Boys will be of interest to scholars and students across the humanities and social sciences and is also relevant to those teaching and studying in the fields of child development, education, and youth and community studies.
This book studies a distinctive brand of women's rights that emerged out of the Victorian Secularist movement, and looks at the lives and work of a number of female activists, whose renunciation of religion shaped their struggle for emancipation. Anti-religious or secular ideas were fundamental to the development of feminist thought, but have, until now, been almost entirely passed over in the historiography of the Victorian and Edwardian women's movement. In uncovering an important tradition of freethinking feminism, the book reveals an ongoing radical and free love current connecting Owenite feminism with the more ‘respectable’ post-1850 women's movement and the ‘New Women’ of the early twentieth century.