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Title: Gender and Class : A study of political activism in the North West Labour Women's Organisation and Militant in the 1980s
Author: Creear, Margaret
ISNI:       0000 0004 2693 2770
Awarding Body: Keele University
Current Institution: Keele University
Date of Award: 2010
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Historically, women activists in the labour movement have faced the problem of combining an allegiance to class politics with an awareness of gender disadvantage. While possessing a unifying egalitarian discourse, the labour movement's gender ideology - through prioritising male concerns in its programme, organisation and culture - marginalised women. The thesis examines the tensions between these two discourses through a study of a group of women activists in the Labour Party, the Labour Women's Organisation and Militant in the North West of England during the 1980s. As well as documentary evidence, the study is based on in-depth, informal interviews with seventeen activists. The thesis begins with a survey of how earlier generations of women experienced and challenged the labour movement's gender ideology before discussing the immediate context of Thatcherism in which this group's activism took place. After analysing their class and gender identities, the thesis considers the activists' response to significant events and issues, including changes in the workforce, the miners' strike of 1984-85, and campaigns on sexual harassment and domestic violence. The thesis assesses the impact of campaigning on their political and organisational views and strategies, and maps both changes and continuities in ideology, practice and culture. The thesis highlights the importance of discourses and structures which encourage and enable collective activism. It shows that, although organising as women was problematic (they could be marginalised or allocated a purely supportive role), it was crucial to the interviewees' ability to develop their political ideas and work. Women labour movement activists who decide to address gender disadvantage within a class context occupy a particular political space. In this, they are neither synonymous with the labour movement nor the autonomous women's movement, but interact with both.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available