Marriage, Mothering and Political Identity

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:
Marriage, Mothering and Political Identity

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Women challenged their unequal positions in the worlds of work, politics and marriage but changes in the inter-war years threatened to reshape gender relations by transforming women's roles in ways that could undermine their autonomy and reduce their access to support. Not only did the state, state agencies, clergy, religious organisations and the media actively promote marriage and mothering as the natural and fulfilling aspirations for women, but this was reinforced by greater state supervision of housewives and mothers. Working-class women had aspirations and enjoyed some improvements in material culture. However, the collective memories of women in this period present a picture of a shared culture of deprivation alleviated by women's networks, the influence of ‘reciprocity and sympathy’ and working-class religious concepts of neighbourliness and charity that revolved around their roles as mothers and housewives. Indeed, there were Scottish women who felt that ‘we were closer to one another because everybody was in the one boat. There were none of us had much more than another and it made us understand one another’. These sentiments reflect older traditions in which women's networks operated to mediate financial insecurity, the burdens of household managing and mothering, and men's abuse of the family and the ‘family wage’.

Keywords: women; gender relations; marriage; motherhood; state supervision

Chapter.  11726 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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