The Permissive Society? Unmarried Motherhood in the 1960s

Pat Thane and Tanya Evans

in Sinners? Scroungers? Saints?

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199578504
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741838 | DOI:
The Permissive Society? Unmarried Motherhood in the 1960s

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Questions how much changed and why. Most changes were from the later 1960s: liberal legislation (e.g., divorce reform, legal abortion), the pill, increased divorce, open cohabitation, births outside marriage, fewer marriages. End of family secrecy and more public tolerance, but intolerance remained in some circles, reacting against ‘permissiveness’. Emphasis in public and policy discourse on lone mothers, rather than unmarried mothers because there was increased divorce and separation. The ‘rediscovery of poverty’ and new campaigns about family poverty. Unmarried mothers still poorest and NC continued to prioritize them, though it changed its name in 1973 to the National Council for One Parent Families (OPF) in response to needs of other single parents. The limits to change: the experiences of lone mothers and attitudes to them still diverse.

Keywords: unmarried mothers; illegitimacy; family history; welfare history; voluntary action; permissiveness; the pill; abortion; divorce; lone parents; poverty; child poverty

Chapter.  9623 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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