Class Fragmentation: Respectability, Religion and Residence

Annmarie Hughes

in Gender and Political Identities in Scotland, 1919-1939

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780748639816
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653522 | DOI:
Class Fragmentation: Respectability, Religion and Residence

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The Scottish labour movement was benevolent in its praise of working-class women when they were successful in electoral campaigns but they were also quick to suggest that women did not vote ‘properly’ and to blame them for any ‘election fiasco’. This worldview has resonance in labour history literature and popular discourse which continues to identify women as being more inclined to vote Conservative. It also correlates with accusations that socialist women failed to recognise the potential of the newly enfranchised women's vote as a lever to forward women's issues. Many working-class women did vote for the parties of the left in Scotland, but like men, there were Scottish women in the inter-war period who voted against it for a variety of reasons, which included perceptions of self based on the concept of ‘respectability’ and the influence of religious identity. The adoption of the hierarchal model of class in Scottish communities that linked economic well-being to ‘respectability’, a classification system that measured working-class status, merged with religious divisions to shape political identities. Women have also been identified as more vulnerable to the hierarchal model of class because, unlike men, they faced impediments in absorbing a consciousness of class from workplace experiences which facilitated the more adversarial ‘them and us’ vision of class.

Keywords: Scottish labour movement; working-class women; socialist women; political identity; social class

Chapter.  10577 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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