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Social Research MattersA Life in Family Sociology$
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Julia Brannen

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781529208566

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781529208566.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM POLICY PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.policypress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Policy Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PPSO for personal use.date: 16 May 2022

Mothers and the Labour Market

Mothers and the Labour Market

(p.43) 3 Mothers and the Labour Market
Social Research Matters

Julia Brannen

Policy Press

This chapter reflects on the shifting public discourses in Britain concerning mothers and the labour market from the end of the Second World War and shows how the framing of research questions reflects these changing public discourses. At the end of the Second World War, women were ejected from many of the jobs in which they had worked in wartime to create work for returning servicemen. This ejection marked a watershed in women's lives and a backward step in female emancipation. The author began research on mothers in the labour market in the late 1970s. At that time, home was still promoted as the ‘best place’ to rear young children and mothers the best people to do so. This narrative shifted in the late 1980s, reflecting not only the rapid growth in the employment of mothers with young children but the increased emphasis placed by government on market forces and the notion of ‘individual choice’. Reflecting these changes, the social research agenda also shifted. In the 1960s and 1970s, motherhood was a small field of inquiry occupied mainly by those concerned with family life or child development. Gradually, much of the territory of ‘family studies’ was taken over by feminist sociologists whose work threw the spotlight on to patriarchy and women's oppression.

Keywords:   mothers, labour market, female emancipation, individual choice, social research, motherhood, family studies, feminist sociologists, patriarchy, women's oppression

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