The "housewife as expert": re-thinking the experiential expertise and welfare activism of housewives' associations in England, 1960-1980

Book chapter


Beaumont, C. (2024). The "housewife as expert": re-thinking the experiential expertise and welfare activism of housewives' associations in England, 1960-1980. in: Everyday Welfare in Modern British History: experiences, expertise and activism Palgrave Macmillan.
AuthorsBeaumont, C.
Abstract

This chapter contests long-held assumptions that housewives lost status as experiential experts in the wake of the Second World War and with the coming of the British Welfare State. It has been suggested that from the 1960s housewives no longer influenced policy debates or engaged in effective activism. Indeed, by the 1970s housewives were more likely to be portrayed as beleaguered and subservient than as experts and activists. Drawing on the idea that experiential expertise emerges from “communities of experience”, which in turn enables activism, this chapter offers an original and alternative viewpoint. Instead of fading into the background during the 1960s and 1970s housewives’ associations became even more outspoken about the right of wives and mothers to “fare well”. The chapter highlights the success of their activism but also considers its limitations by asking whose experience and expertise was foregrounded. Re-conceptualising the expertise and activism of housewives’ associations during these years challenges the demise of the “housewife as expert” construct. It reveals for the first time the impact housewives’ associations had on welfare policy and offers a new analysis of the women’s movement during these two transformative decades.
Keywords; Housewives’ associations, Activism, Welfare, Experiential expertise, Women’s movement.

KeywordsHousewives' associations; Activism; Welfare; Experiential Expertise; Women's movement
Year2024
Book titleEveryday Welfare in Modern British History: experiences, expertise and activism
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
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Open
SeriesPalgrave Studies in the History of Experience
Publication dates
PrintSep 2024
Publication process dates
AcceptedJun 2024
Deposited26 Jun 2024
Web address (URL)https://link.springer.com/book/9783031649868
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https://openresearch.lsbu.ac.uk/item/97653

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