'Family matters' : ideas about the family in British culture 1945-1970
There is an idea, currently fashionable amongst historians, that all history is really 'about' the present 1. This thesis does nothing to undermine this idea. Although most obviously concerned with ideas about the family in the twenty five or so years after 1945, it is also very much concerned with our own contemporary debates about the family. Indeed, it is conceived as a means of making an intervention into those debates. The thesis seeks to explore the complexity of debate, policy, representation and memories of the family in the postwar period. To do this, research is organised around three distinct strands: Consideration of official discourse and public policy (at both a national and local level); analysis of representations of family in popular culture, particularly in British film/ and consideration of remembered experience as evidenced in oral sources. Where appropriate, the London Borough of Greenwich has been used as a local example which acts as a reference point for discussion of national concerns. The research comprises work on new oral sources and on local authority and voluntary agency papers which have not previously been the subject of published work. It also involves new ways of thinking about some well research material in official publications and film. The thesis also engages with questions of method and theory associated with studying the history of ideas. It is particularly concerned with affirming the importance of studies of popular, non-literary culture and oral histories in understanding the past.