Chapter

Family in Trouble

Geoffrey G. Field

in Blood, Sweat, and Toil

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199604111
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731686 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199604111.003.0006
Family in Trouble

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Wartime publicity frequently described Britain as a family and later images of the Blitz also stress the courage and endurance of families as a key institution that enabled the nation to surmount the crisis. While acknowledging positive representations of family, this chapter examines the equally widespread alarm among government officials, journalists and social work groups about wartime dislocation of family life—as measured by rising statistics for divorce, delinquency and illegitimacy, press stories about ‘good time girls’, and claims that sexual immorality was a pervasive problem. The chapter argues that to a striking degree these anxieties centred upon women from poor and working-class families. Family became a point of intersection for a range of public debates about child welfare, crime, sexual morality, and eugenic concerns about the nation's low birth rate—all of which shaped debates both about post-war reconstruction and social welfare reform.

Keywords: War and the family; Child welfare; ‘problem families’; deprived child; children's nurseries; the elderly; The Children's Act (1948); pronatalism; ‘good time girls’

Chapter.  19482 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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