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Title: Growing up good? : medical, social hygiene and youth work perspectives on young women, 1918-1939
Author: Oldfield, Carolyn
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2001
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This thesis explores the discourses and organisations through which girls' development towards adult womanhood was framed and managed during the inter-war period. It examines how contemporary perceptions of social change following the First World War resulted in widespread scrutiny of girls' circumstances and behaviour, particularly their sexual conduct. It argues that representations and responses to girls were increasingly underpinned by the conceptualisation of adolescence as a critical period of change and instability. This understanding of adolescence pervaded both medical and lay discourses. It was interpreted through the prisms of gender and class, and served to legitimise increasing levels of intervention into girls' lives, mainly on the basis of their sexual behaviour or perceived exposure to sexual risk. Adolescence was also represented as the period in which individuals developed moral agency. This study examines the increased importance ascribed to the moral training of the adolescent, in the context of widespread agreement of the need to express traditional moral values in ways that took account of social change. This was seen as particularly important for girls, not only because of their changing circumstances, but because of women's new status as enfranchised citizens. The thesis explores the work of the Girl Guides Association and the Young Women's Christian Association in some detail. These organisations drew upon the discourse of social change, adolescence and citizenship to claim an enhanced role in shaping the development of young women. While histories of girls' youth organisations have tended to portray them as conservative movements intent on socialising girls into their future role as wives and mothers, this study highlights these organisations' commitment to preparing girls to understand and exercise their future responsibilities as citizens, and argues that such organisations were more complex in their purposes, and more varied in their approaches, than has previously been recognised.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HQ The family. Marriage. Woman