Women's Surreptitious Vocations : Policies And Women Policy-Makers On English Adult Education 1910 - 1975

PhD Thesis

Hughes, Constance (1989). Women's Surreptitious Vocations : Policies And Women Policy-Makers On English Adult Education 1910 - 1975. PhD Thesis Council for National Academic Awards Department of Social Sciences, Polytechnic of the South Bank. https://doi.org/10.18744/lsbu.957z0
AuthorsHughes, Constance
TypePhD Thesis

This thesis analyses policy on English adult education for women from 1910 - 1975. I argue that policy concentrates on gender, class and age, although this is often not stated explicitly. Inspite of its claims to being non-vocational, and recreational and occupying leisure time, I show that, to a large extent adult education policy was intended to complement women's vocation as homemakers and preservers of home life as well as sometimes their paid work in servicing others. I suggest that adult education upholds the dominant ideology of domesticity for women, despite the fact that practice has not always accorded with this view. Hence I argue that adult education provides for the surreptitious vocational training of women. I also indicate that adult education provision for women largely mirrors the debates and practices around the school curriculum for girls. I analyse the situation whereby middle-class women, albeit in a minority to men, had a vocation as unpaid nominees on nationally appointed committees or as elected or co-opted members in local government to make or endorse policy decisions which had implications for unpaid vocations of working-class women. I examine the relationship between national and local policy to draw out the links, differences and processes of communication and influence between the two. As examples of national/local interaction I take three key policy changes in the London service, that is the establishment of women's institutes in 1913, their abolition in 1957 and issues of equality which arose during the gathering of evidence to the Russell Committee convened in 1969. I provide a feminist critique of the official history of adult education policy from 1910 to 1975 to discover the relationship between the vocation of women as policy-makers and the insistence on domestic vocations for women students.

PublisherLondon South Bank University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.18744/lsbu.957z0
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Deposited16 Nov 2023
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