Women, Social Leadership, and the Second World War: Continuities of Class

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This mass of documentation has enabled the author to detail the sometimes less than friendly relations between the centre and the regions and to explore the nuances of the interpersonal networks and mores of the urban and rural elites who formed the leadership of the WVS. The detailed primary material underpinning the book provides more than enough evidence for the significance of personality, politics and idiosyncratic local social networks in understanding the deep-seated continuities of social class. Hinton nevertheless interrogates the role of party politics within the supposedly non-partisan, but state-funded, WVS.

Women, Social Leadership, and the Second World War: Continuities of Class

He argues that with the rise of the professional society and the democratisation of local party politics the social elites had withdrawn from local political involvement with the lower echelons yet still maintained their superior social status within the region. Labour party women apparently found it particularly irksome to work with the WVS; they were far more politically active than their conservative counterparts but had equally forceful personalities amongst their leadership. Hinton however points out that Labour party supporters amongst the WVS leadership tended to be middle-class, thus not compromising the dominance of this group.

Hinton indeed asks whether the presence of working class women who did join the WVS simply acted to reflect and confirm the superiority of the middle-class members. The experience of the practice of middle-class philanthropy was still in working-class memory. The case studies demonstrate that although minutes suggest centralised control from Tothill Street, the centres did claim some autonomy.

The County organiser, Sabrina Gordon, widow of the bishop of Jarrow, was unable to work with Winifred Waring, the local Easington organiser.

Eventually the Easington Centre was closed down because of conflict and lack of compliance with the central organisation. That this appears to be an isolated and well-documented event also illustrates how harmonious relations were in the other regions.

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Hinton locates the work of the WVS in relation to the plethora of female associations in existence — not an easy task given the number of these organisations recently identified by David Doughan and Peter Gordon. Membership of one or more of these associations appears to have been part of the quasi-public role of the middle-class woman before, during and immediately after the war; this study of the WVS, which drew its members from these established groups, further illustrates the complex workings of the rural and urban female networks upon which such organisations drew.

Tory ladies and active Labour women complete the cast of thousands of women who joined the WVS, becoming local leaders and regional organisers. Hinton also raises the thorny problem of these clearly autonomous women and their relationship to contemporary ideas of feminism. What is interesting here is that Hinton suggests that, through an analysis of WVS activity, we can see how the women themselves ordered the importance of social status over financial gain.

Although not part of this current research and the bibliography is evidence of the enormous number of files there are to consult this study paves the way for a fruitful oral history investigation into the perceptions and memories, of what will have to be the younger members or children, of the way the management of the WVS reflected local social structures.

Developments in social policy

He observes that most of the leaders tended to be widows and spinsters with a background in philanthropic work. For professional women who joined the WVS, the relationship with the leisured amateur appears to have been particularly problematic. This antipathy became obvious after the war when the future of the WVS was in question. It was expected that at the end of hostilities the WVS role would disappear and although a two-year delay was negotiated, Hinton concludes that without the active involvement of Lady Reading and her contacts in government, it is unlikely that it would have survived even into the s.

Out of the one million members, possibly as many as four-fifths of the membership left to take up their previous activities.

Inevitably this led to a decline in the significance of social leadership. Lady Reading was clearly on her own in her vision that the WVS would provide a peacetime model for the ongoing relationship between government and volunteer bodies. It appears a pragmatic decision on the part of the government to use the WVS in communicating to housewives the message of austerity, food education and fuel economy.

It might also be significant that the s saw an increase in the number of women embracing the Myrdal and Klein dual role model of employment and gaining status through paid work rather than through membership of voluntary associations. You can get Free shipping on fulfilled by Souq items if the total fulfilled by Souq items in your cart equals or exceed EGP. No, you will enjoy unlimited free shipping when you have the total amount for the added fulfilled by Souq items to your cart is above or equal EGP. We will send you an SMS containing a verification code.

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