Ideas structures and practices of feminism : 1939-64


Blackford, Catherine 1996. Ideas structures and practices of feminism : 1939-64. Thesis University of East London
AuthorsBlackford, Catherine

A dominant theme in histories of twentieth century women's
politics is the argument that there have been two 'waves' of high
profile activity and unity: the pre 1914 suffrage Movement and
the post 1960s Women's Liberation Movement. As a result of this
historical temporality, the years 1918-68 have generally been
presented as a period of longterm decline in women's politics.
Since the late 1980s, research on women's politics in the interwar
years has begun to challenge this consensus. However, there
has been limited re-evaluation of women's political organisation
in the 1940s and 1950s. Existing research presents this period
primarily in terms of decline, and offers an interpretation of
1940s and l950s feminism through the unsympathetic lens of a
'second wave' definition of feminism based on opposition to
women's traditional domestic roles.
Using recently released archival material which has yet to be
incorporated into analysis of women's politics in this period,
and drawing on shifts in feminist thinking since the 1980s, the
thesis offers a re-evaluation of self identified feminism in the
period 1939-64.
Taking as its primary focus, the Married Women's Association, a
feminist organisation concerned with the legal economic rights
of married women, the thesis argues that a new strand of feminism
emerged in the late 1930s. Although the key themes of this 'new'
feminism - economic equality and independence of the full-time
housewife - were distinctive to the l940s and 1950s, they also
revealed intimations of ideas and issues taken up by the Women's
Liberation Movement from the late l960s.
By arguing for equality in difference, 'new' feminists applied
the language of equal rights to women's position in the private
sphere. In the process they argued that full-time housewives,
as workers and marital partners, were entitled to economic
independence in the form of a legal right to half the male wage.
From the late 1950s however, growing feminist recognition of
married women's dual role led to the beginnings of a discussion
about the effects of women's domesticity on their status in the
workplace; this was to develop into a critique of the role of
full-time housewife for women.

Keywordsfeminism; women's politics
Web address (URL)
File Access Level
Registered users only
Publication dates
Publication process dates
Deposited09 May 2011
Additional information

This thesis supplied via ROAR to UEL-registered users is protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights, and duplication of any part of the material is not permitted, except for your personal use for the purposes of non-commercial research and private study in electronic or print form. You must obtain permission from the copyright-holder for any other use. Electronic or print copies may not be offered, for sale or otherwise, to anyone. No quotation from the thesis may be published without proper acknowledgement.

Permalink -

  • 103
    total views
  • 0
    total downloads
  • 0
    views this month
  • 0
    downloads this month

Export as