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Title: Health, balance, and women's 'dual role' in Britain, 1945-1963
Author: Cooper, Frederick George
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 3001
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis examines the role and currency of medical and psychological languages and anxieties in discussions of women’s work, housework, marriage and motherhood in Britain between 1945 and 1963. More specifically, it traces the emergence of the ‘dual role’, a life balanced between work and home, as the product of competing and colliding concerns over childhood and adult illness. Arguing for a granular and contingent approach to historical knowledge and experience, it analyses a series of conversations and transformations, each of which contributed to shifts in ideals of appropriate, ethical, and healthy behaviour. In moving beyond existing histories of women, work, and home, this thesis takes a complex look at the medical politics of post-war feminism and counter-feminism. It identifies and explores important sites of contestation and collision, in which new orthodoxies and compromises were formed. Through close review of disregarded post-war literatures on motherhood, male health, housework, fatigue, loneliness, selfhood, ageing, the therapeutics and prophylaxis of productivity, overstrain, caring, morbidity, psychological conflict, and the relationship between medicine and political transformation, this thesis provides a methodical and nuanced account of the ideas and experiences which framed and bounded changing patterns of combination between work and home. It offers scholars of women’s history a more sophisticated understanding of the diversity and importance of knowledge about the mind and body – as well as the thoughts, words and actions of medical professionals – in shaping historical processes which have been widely described but insufficiently understood. For historians of medicine, it explores the political context and consequences of discourses on health, using questions over work, domesticity, marriage and motherhood to interrogate the collaborative and antagonistic convergences between feminist activism, curative therapy, and public health.
Supervisor: Jackson, Mark ; Haggett, Alison Sponsor: Wellcome Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Medicine ; Psychiatry ; Feminism ; Post-war British Society ; Health History