World War I and Women in France

  • James F. McMillan


In analysing social change, French historians tend to attach more importance to trends and developments which take place over the long term (the longue durée) than to individual ‘events’. British historians, while not insensitive to such secular trends, more readily concede that ‘events’ — especially when they are as cataclysmic as World War I — may play a determining role in their own right. It is the particular achievement of Professor Arthur Marwick to have made the relationship between total war and social change one of the key problems of contemporary historiography. My own position will be seen to be closer to that of the French historians: but I should say at the outset that I in no way dispute Professor Marwick’s central proposition, namely that World War I is a privileged vantage point from which to observe social change.1 The war gives us a precise moment on which to focus, an opportunity, as it were, to take stock and assess the relative importance of war-time innovations when set beside long-term change and continuities.


Married Woman Woman Worker Tertiary Sector Clothing Industry French Woman 
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© James F. McMillan 1988

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  • James F. McMillan

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