What do women want? Housewives’ associations, activism and changing representations of women in the 1950s

Book chapter


Beaumont, C (2017). What do women want? Housewives’ associations, activism and changing representations of women in the 1950s. in: Tinkler, P, Spencer, S and Langhamer, C (ed.) Women in Fifties Britain: A New Look London Routledge.
AuthorsBeaumont, C
EditorsTinkler, P, Spencer, S and Langhamer, C
Abstract

Contented housewives, glamorous women, jive-mad teenagers – all are common figures in popular perceptions of 1950s Britain. But what more did it mean to be a girl or woman in the fifties? And what are the implications of this history for understanding post-war Britain? Women in Fifties Britain explores the lived experience of girls and women, and the way in which their story has been told. Crossing boundaries – disciplinary, conceptual and thematic – and drawing creatively on new and established sources, it extends and enriches the terrain of women’s history. Diverse groups of women come into view, including farmer’s wives, university-educated women, activist housewives, working mothers, Jewish refugees, girls ‘at risk’, and private secretaries. Revealing that their private, public and professional lives were central to reshaping society, the collection engages with the legacy of World War II, and with questions about the distinctiveness of the 1950s. Embracing emotion, labour, gender, class, race, sociability, sexuality and much more, the authors offer penetrating exploration of established and new categories of historical analysis. Placing the politics of gender at the heart of Britain’s reconstruction, this engaging and important collection re-visions 1950s Britain and the women that made it. This book was originally published as a special issue of Women’s History Review.

Keywordswomen's history; postwar British history
Year2017
Book titleWomen in Fifties Britain: A New Look
PublisherRoutledge
Place of publicationLondon
ISBN9781138104617
Publication dates
Print01 Aug 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited09 Aug 2017
Accepted27 Jun 2017
Accepted author manuscript
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