Lone motherhood in England, 1945–1990 : economy, agency and identity
Gallwey, April (2011) Lone motherhood in England, 1945–1990 : economy, agency and identity. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b2582657~S1
This thesis examines the history of lone motherhood in England between 1945 and 1990. Most studies of lone motherhood after 1945 have focused on unmarried women, but this study looks at all routes into lone motherhood: pre-marital pregnancy, separation, divorce and widowhood. Existing research on post-1945 history has tended to prioritise the role of the state in determining demographic trends in family life and behaviour. This thesis uses oral history evidence to demonstrate how women’s agency shaped routes into lone motherhood as well as their management of female-headed household economies and their sense of identity within the post-war welfare state. A sample of fifty oral history interviews, primarily selected from the Millennium Memory Bank at the National Sound Archive forms the basis of the thesis. Interviewees are predominantly working-class and from urban locations across all regions of England. The sample is divided into five generational cohorts, which span the immediate post-war period, 1950s, 1960s 1970s and 1980s. Childhood, adolescent and marital experiences are analysed within each cohort in order to understand changes and continuities in women’s entrance into lone motherhood. In addition, contemporary sociological sources are discussed alongside the oral histories in order to understand the relationship between the sociological construction of lone motherhood and lone mothers’ developing social identities in the post-war period. Three categories of analysis in relation to the experience of lone motherhood feature: ‘Accommodation and Housing,’ ‘Maternal Economy’ and ‘Social Membership and Identity.’ The study concludes that women’s greater entrance into lone motherhood after 1970 was driven by their rejection of an untenable social and economic division of labour in marriage, which remained consistent across our period. The development of sociological classification in relation to one parent families in the 1960s is demonstrated to have been taken-up by women from the 1970s onwards to legitimize their entitlement to state assistance and housing. This entitlement is also argued to have rested on an inter-generational maternal identity that understood the importance of maternity and the false demarcation between waged and domestic labour, which working-class women, inside and outside of marriage, confronted across the twentieth-century.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Single mothers -- England -- History -- 20th century|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of History|
|Supervisor(s)/Advisor:||Thomson, Mathew ; Todd, Selina|
|Sponsors:||University of Warwick|
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