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Women’s history in the long 1970s has normally been characterised by the direct impact of second wave feminism but feminism did not influence women in working-class communities in a way recognisably concurrent with its influence in middle-class communities. This paper will begin to explore how the ideas of female autonomy and individuality promoted by feminist rhetoric permeated working-class culture, filtered through a class lens, and combined with alternate, equally impactful, influences. The influences that form the focus of this paper are the changes and expansions to education in this period as well as classed, cultural ideas of motherhood. In a period of flux for the ideologies and actualities of both class and gender my research argues that the evolution of ideas of womanhood and expectations of a woman’s role need to be understood from directly within a class context.

Honor Morris is a third year history PhD student at King’s College London. Her research uses oral history and evidence from contemporary sociological studies to explore the lives and lived experiences of working-class women in the long 1970s through their own testimony. She is also a co-convenor of the Modern British History Reading Group.


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