Borderline citizens: women and the political process

Kathryn Gleadle

in Borderline Citizens

Published by British Academy

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780197264492
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734274 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs

Borderline citizens: women and the political process

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter considers how, as ratepayers, householders, electors, parliamentary constituents, petitioners, welfare providers, and policy experts, women in Britain were commonly treated as political subjects. Women were ‘borderline citizens’ whose status hovered permanently in the interstices of the political nation: their involvement could be evoked and sanctioned as quickly as it could be dismissed and undermined. This chapter focuses on the structural qualities of the political process and the ways in which they variously facilitated or limited female participation. It was in the parish that women enjoyed the most expansive opportunities, yet parochial authority was increasingly eroded in this period thanks to reforms such as the Poor Law Amendment Act and the Municipal Corporations Act. This chapter also discusses the involvement of women in parliamentary elections, local elections, and petitioning.

Keywords: Britain; elections; petitioning; policy experts; borderline citizens; parish; Poor Law Amendment Act; Municipal Corporations Act; political process

Chapter.  15761 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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