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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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Our Towns

Our Towns

Chapter:
(p.177) 9 Our Towns
Source:
Women, Social Leadership, and the Second World War
Author(s):

James Hinton (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199243297.003.0009

This chapter returns to the wider female associational world, examining attempts to consolidate women's organizations around a non-partisan reformist agenda which reflected their conviction that, however extensively the state might or indeed should intervene, ongoing social problems would continue to provide fertile soil for middle-class social leadership. It examines the Women's Group on Public Welfare and its 1943 study of urban poverty, Our Towns; the local co-ordination of the women's movement through Standing Conferences of Women's Organisations; the role of the Townswomen's Guilds and the Soroptimists in these developments; and the limited wartime revival of feminism and efforts to promote independent women candidates in local elections. The ambition and self-assertiveness of this non-partisan feminine reformism was limited both by the inability of women to take on the male-dominated power of the political parties, and by the growing marginalization of philanthropic forms of authority as social work became increasingly professionalized in the welfare state.

Keywords:   Second World War, voluntary work, social leadership, Britain, Women's Group on Public Welfare, Soroptimists, Townswomen's Guilds, feminism

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