'From the housewife's point of view': female citizenship and the gendered domestic interior in post-First World War Britain, 1918-1928

Cowman, Krista (2015) 'From the housewife's point of view': female citizenship and the gendered domestic interior in post-First World War Britain, 1918-1928. The English Historical Review, 130 (543). pp. 352-383. ISSN 0013-8266

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Abstract

This article explores the work of the Women’s Housing Sub-Committee, a government-appointed body which reported to the Advisory Council of the Ministry of Reconstruction, in recognising the home as a key site where active, respectable female citizens might be produced. The Sub-Committee started work in 1918, a month after the Representation of the People Act gave votes to some British women, prompting a wide debate about how best to integrate them into political life. Charged with reporting on plans for post-war social housing in England and Wales, the Sub-Committee demanded that these homes should be designed from the point of view of the working-class housewife who would occupy them. Through considering the evidence gathered by the Sub-Committee and its responses to the plans suggested by Ministry architects, the paper demonstrates how the sub-committee demanded new spatial configurations that would afford women citizens the space they needed to think and discuss politics while new labour-saving devices–and the room to house them–would free up time for them to develop themselves as active citizens. Finally, it considers how this connection was pursued in the discourse of the three main political parties as they attempted to connect with the rising numbers of women voters in the decade between women’s partial and full enfranchisement.

Keywords:Women's history, design, politics, inter-war Britain, bmjgoldcheck, NotOAChecked
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V140 Modern History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V210 British History
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
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ID Code:17325
Deposited On:29 Apr 2015 20:47

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