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Women, Social Leadership, and the Second World WarContinuities of Class$
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James Hinton

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199243297

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199243297.001.0001

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Integrating the Working Class

Integrating the Working Class

(p.66) 4 Integrating the Working Class
Women, Social Leadership, and the Second World War

James Hinton (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the attempts of the national WVS leadership to reach out to working-class female activists, often against opposition from both the established middle-class social leaders in charge of local groups, and the main organizations of working-class housewives. Despite repeated overtures to the Women's Co-operative Guild and the Labour Party, Lady Reading was unable to break down the long-standing suspicion with which Labour women regarded the middle-class women's movement, and such co-operation as there was tended to be grudging and seen by the Labour women as a temporary wartime expedient. While Conservative women sought to reinforce their claims to social leadership by active participation in the non-partisan women's movement, Labour women tended to pursue political influence through strictly policed boundaries of party and class, using the power bestowed by universal suffrage to organize a counter-hegemony on the terrain of local government politics.

Keywords:   Women's Voluntary Service, social leadership, Britain, Women's Co-operative Guild, Labour Party

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