Unmarried Motherhood in ‘Family Britain’: Challenging Bowlby

Pat Thane and Tanya Evans

in Sinners? Scroungers? Saints?

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199578504
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741838 | DOI:
Unmarried Motherhood in ‘Family Britain’: Challenging Bowlby

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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

Chapter.  12073 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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