‘A Pension to Look Forward to …?’: Women Civil Service Clerks in London, 1925–1939
The ten women1 whose life histories form the basis of this study were, for part of their lives, clerical grade civil servants. They were all born between 1905 and 1915 and had a Civil Service career of at least seven years. These women were able to achieve for themselves upward social mobility into the (lower) middle class; this change in their social position happening before and not as a result of, marriage to similarly upwardly mobile men. This intra-generational change can only be understood by placing the individual life histories within a social and economic context. As C. W. Mills pointed out more than 25 years ago ‘… every individual lives from one generation to the next, in some society; he lives out a biography and he lives it out within some historical sequence.’2 One supposes that the same goes for ‘she’ too. This self evident truth about individual life experience is, surprisingly, almost ignored in classic studies of social mobility.
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- 2.C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, 1959, p. 6.Google Scholar