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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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Discipline and Charm

Discipline and Charm

(p.90) 5 Discipline and Charm
Women, Social Leadership, and the Second World War

James Hinton (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the complex and ambiguous relationship between WVS and local government. Voluntary work gave women influence in local government, and, in towns where the local council was in Labour hands, WVS could provided a site of resistance to the dominance of the labour movement. Gender as well as class played a central role in these relationships, from male councillors' hostility to what they saw as creeping ‘petticoat government’ by bossy middle-class women, to the calculated deployment of feminine charm to overcome the instinctive hostility of powerful men to female self-assertion. These local dynamics of power were complicated by Lady Reading's autocratic and hierarchical style of leadership, which she used to transmit national priorities determined in Whitehall to local social leaders who were often concerned to resist the centralising logic of state expansion.

Keywords:   Women's Voluntary Service, social leadership, class, gender, local government, state expansion

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