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Book Launch: Eve Worth, The Welfare State Generation: Women, Agency and Class in Britain since 1945

Women born in mid twentieth-century Britain were the 'welfare state generation' – not only were their lives fundamentally shaped by the welfare state, they helped to transform it.   In this ground-breaking work, Eve Worth examines the impact of the welfare state on the life course of women whose opportunities and social experiences were formed by it in the post-1945 period. Centred around an oral history study, this book argues that the welfare state was so central to the lives of women born in Britain between the late 1930s and early 1950s that they should be considered the 'welfare state generation'. The post-war expansion of the welfare state was one of the most transformative political changes of the twentieth century, yet we know little about its development in practice, nor its long-term impact on those who grew up within it.   Worth uses an original life history methodology to examine women's experience from their birth in the long 1940s to retirement in the mid-2010s and takes class and gender as key prisms of analysis. Re-conceptualising the causes of social mobility in post-war Britain, exploring a new understanding of work and an updated periodisation of welfare state development, The Welfare State Generation makes an important intervention in meta-narratives of social and political change. 

Professor Helen McCarthy will reflect on the book and afterwards there will be an opportunity for discussion.

Dr Eve Worth
is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in History at the Department of Social Policy and Intervention at the University of Oxford. She was previously the Jenny Wormald JRF at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. Her research  focuses on women’s  experience in Britain since 1945 and how this interacts with broader social, political, and economic change. Her current projects have two major themes: the history of women's social mobility, and the relationship between gender and elite formation in Modern Britain. 

Prof Helen McCarthy is a Professor of Modern and Contemporary British History at the University of Cambridge. Her most recent monograph is the influential Double Lives: A History of Working Motherhood in Britain. 


All welcome- but booking is required.