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'Waking up to the Fact that there are any Unemployed': women, unemployment and the domestic solution in Britain, 1918-1939

Laybourn, Keith (2003) 'Waking up to the Fact that there are any Unemployed': women, unemployment and the domestic solution in Britain, 1918-1939. History, 88 (292). pp. 606-623. ISSN 0018-2648

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This article examines unemployment among married women within the context of evolving government policy rather than from a gender or feminist perspective. It establishes how, during the inter-war years, government policy towards women's unemployment developed in line with the ideas of female-dominated voluntary bodies and was only of fringe interest to the state. In particular, it stresses that a small number of middle-class women shaped official attitudes towards unemployed women through their activities in voluntary bodies, particularly the Central Committee on Women's Training and Employment, as well as their own rise in public service. This group operated within an environment that accepted women to be dispensable as a source of labour and where many female activists felt that women on unemployment benefit should train to be domestic servants, despite the fact that many of those women did not normally want domestic work because it was badly paid, of low status and uninsured. During the inter-war years governments relied heavily upon voluntary bodies to 'fill the gaps' in state welfare provision in their fringe areas of interest such as women's unemployment. In this instance, however, the voluntary bodies failed to assess or tackle the problem effectively.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
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Depositing User: Cherry Edmunds
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2009 11:38
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 10:44


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