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Sinners? Scroungers? Saints?Unmarried Motherhood in Twentieth-Century England$
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Pat Thane and Tanya Evans

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199578504

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199578504.001.0001

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Unmarried Motherhood in ‘Family Britain’: Challenging Bowlby

Unmarried Motherhood in ‘Family Britain’: Challenging Bowlby

(p.82) 4 Unmarried Motherhood in ‘Family Britain’: Challenging Bowlby
Sinners? Scroungers? Saints?

Pat Thane

Tanya Evans

Oxford University Press

After the war still high levels of unmarried motherhood and cohabitation and many mothers still lived with their parents in an atmosphere of tolerance but secrecy. Harder for mothers on their own to find homes and childcare, leading to increased adoption, often reluctant. More, earlier, and longer lasting marriages, but moral panics about ‘teenage mothers’ and increased adultery, the first exaggerated, the latter numbers unknown. Increased influence of psychology, especially John Bowlby, stressing the two-parent family and stay-at-home mother as the bedrock of social stability. Bowlby's conclusions, especially on unmarried mothers, were challenged by social research. Life stories call in question the contented stability of much family life at this time, despite contemporary rhetoric and subsequent idealization of family life during the period.

Keywords:   unmarried mothers, illegitimacy, family history, welfare history, cohabitation, teenage pregnancy, cohabitation, psychology, Bowlby, adoption

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