This introductory chapter focuses on the voluntary work of middle-aged, middle-class women and serves to challenge ‘optimistic’ accounts of the impact of war on class and gender inequalities. It critiques anti-socialist narratives of middle-class decline; discusses the extent of wartime voluntary work; explains the book's strategy of placing the history of the WVS in the wider context of female associational life in provincial England; and sets out some theoretical propositions on the relationships between class, gender, politics, and voluntary work.
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