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Title: Motherhood in Oxfordshire c. 1945-1970 : a study of attitudes, experiences and ideals
Author: Davis, Angela
ISNI:       0000 0000 5070 2255
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis examines women’s experiences of, and attitudes towards, motherhood between 1945 and 1970. The thesis is based on ninety-two oral history interviews with women from different locations in Oxfordshire – rural, urban and suburban. Oral history is a methodology that can provide objective information about women’s lives, but also reveals their thoughts and feelings through the subjectivity of their accounts. The thesis forms a qualitative study looking at six aspects of motherhood. The first is the portrayal of motherhood in contemporary social surveys and community studies. The second is the issue of education for motherhood and questions over whether mothering was innate to women or needed to be taught. Thirdly, the thesis investigates maternity care provision and disputes over who should provide it (namely midwives, GPs or consultants); where this care should take place; and whether pregnancy and childbirth were medical conditions at all. Next it discusses theories of child development and discourses of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ mothers, in order to look at women’s relationship with authorities on childcare. Then it considers critiques of working mothers and debates over whether women should work outside the home; if so, when they should do so; and what strategies they should employ so that work and motherhood could be combined. Finally it analyses popular conceptions of motherhood, marriage and the family, and how the interviewees related to representations of the ideal mother figure during the immediate post-war decades and beyond. The thesis concludes by demonstrating the real difficulties mothers faced during the period 1945-1970; that interviewees from all types of background shared an understanding of how ‘normal’ women should behave; and also that the stereotyping of the period as one of conservatism before the changes that began in the later 1960s and 1970s means the ways in which women were already organising themselves to improve their lives has tended to be disregarded.
Supervisor: Howarth, Janet ; Kate, Tiller Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History ; Economic and Social History ; History of Britain and Europe ; Modern Britain and Europe ; History of medicine ; history ; women ; gender ; Oxfordshire ; motherhood ; maternity