Politics, Community and Protest

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


It has been assumed that women’s apparent acquiescence in new patterns of gender relations had, by mid-century, effectively silenced working women’s potential for political activism.1 Brian Harrison has suggested that women’s housekeeping role moulded their political outlook, rendering them almost unconsciously right wing and politically apathetic.2 Women’s mass participation in politics is usually considered to have re-emerged towards the end of the century, when socialism and suffragism enticed women into political activity once more. However, as Chapter 2 indicated, it is highly questionable whether women’s political involvement had ground to a halt by the mid-century. Recent studies have been at pains to stress the continuities of working-class politics during these years.3 This chapter adopts a similar approach to women’s political engagement, noting also the new perspectives which emerge by paying greater attention to the experience of Irish, Scottish and Welsh women. It also considers the degree to which familial, and even leisure pursuits, should not be divorced from political analyses, but could be closely implicated in women’s political consciousness.


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© Kathryn Gleadle 2001

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