Chapter

Temperance reform and the feminine public sphere

Megan Smitley

in The Feminine Public Sphere

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780719079665
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781703069 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719079665.003.0004
Temperance reform and the feminine public sphere

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This chapter discusses women's public lives that demonstrate the influence of a professional social ideal on the feminine public sphere. Female temperance reformers were integrated into middle-class public life both through their reforming interests and their internalisation of a professional ideal. For female temperance reformers, this meant work among ‘travelling showpeople’ as well as the fair-going public. Along with this, the spectre of ‘the female inebriate’ alternately fascinated and repulsed the men and women of the middle classes, and an important aspect of British women's complementary role within the temperance movement to work particularly with women and girls was manifest in the creation and maintenance of female inebriate homes. This chapter concludes that female temperance reform should be viewed as a fundamental realm of women's active participation in middle-class identity construction rather than simply as a religiously inspired movement bogged down in a conservative understanding of women's social role.

Keywords: public lives; professional social ideal; British women; esoteric service; female temperance reformers

Chapter.  10177 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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