Women and Families: An Oral History, 1940-1970
This is an account of three English working-class communities from 1940 to 1970. The story is told through the words and memories of those who lived ... Show synopsis This is an account of three English working-class communities from 1940 to 1970. The story is told through the words and memories of those who lived through it. The book is at once vivid, moving and eye-opening. This was a period of change, usually seen as progress. People everywhere became better off. Healthcare was provided free and the education of children was universal. This was the first age of the domestic machine, releasing women for employment in paid work. The church, the police, teachers and the state became less sources of authority than of care. Television provided entertainment in the home. Improved methods of contraception emancipated sexuality. But, as Elizabeth Roberts shows, the caring state and the privatized family were also accompanied by a diminished sense of community and neighbourliness, and by a loss of confidence in previously accepted standards and values in family relationships and the rearing of children. Women and Families provides a fascinating insight into the realities of social change during three crucial decades of English history. Few of the accepted generalizations - concerning the changing roles of men and women, the loss of working-class solidarity, the decline of family and communal life, the effects of high-rise living, the impact of immigration, and the benefits of healthcare and social welfare - survive the evidence so ably assembled here.