Politics, Community and Protest

Part of the Social History in Perspective book series (SHP)


During the second half of the nineteenth century new opportunities emerged for female involvement in public and political affairs. In addition to the evolving philanthropic tradition, women gained access to local government office and direct involvement in party politics. The women’s rights movement also burgeoned, bringing with it the growth of a feminist sensibility which embraced notjust women’s rights, but such issues as temperance, social morality and peace. In all these areas, women’s confidence to engage with the ‘public sphere’ drew upon a complex mix of cultural influences. Evangelical, feminist, political, imperial and national discourses proliferated and diverged to produce enormous diversityin both women’s activities and their ideological motivations. Meanwhile, the consolidation of a female consciousness encouraged many female activists to seek cross-class collaboration — ambitions which frequently foundered upon the particularity of their own political visions.


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© Kathryn Gleadle 2001

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