The Women's Liberation Movement in Britain, 1968-1984: locality and organisation in feminist politics

Flaherty, Emily Grace (2017) The Women's Liberation Movement in Britain, 1968-1984: locality and organisation in feminist politics. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis offers new insights and understandings of the complexity and development of the operational and organisational forms of the Women’s Liberation Movement over the course of the 1970s and 1980s. Through focusing on the local groups of Aberdeen, Brighton and Hove, Edinburgh and Bolton as case studies of the broader movement, this research argues that there were complex processes of development at the grassroots in which women conceived of, implemented and continued to develop new feminist methods of political organisation and structure, and continued to debate issues of organisation, structure and political practice throughout the period. Furthermore, this thesis demonstrates that the development of new, alternative feminist organisational and political practices were central to the ways in which the WLM attempted to represent and manage the diverse opinions, positions, interests and socio-economic divisions within its membership from the very beginnings of the WLM. This study also explores the impact of local factors on each group and the extent to which these shaped and developed the organisation, structure and practices of local groups over the course of the 1970s and into the 1980s. In doing so, this thesis challenges a historiography that depicts the WLM as a ‘structureless’ movement and therefore as disorganised, and which outlines a simplistic ‘rise and fall’ chronology of the movement, from unity in the early 1970s to crippling division at the end of the decade. Rather, through the use of documentary evidence and oral history interviews with feminist activists, this thesis argues that attempts to solve and mange debate and disagreements between women were a significant part and purpose of feminist organisation and its subsequent development well beyond the supposed ‘end’ of the WLM in 1978.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Women's Liberation Movement, Britain.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Abrams, Professor Lynn and Bracke, Dr. Maud
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Ms Emily Grace Flaherty
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8551
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2017 09:49
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2022 10:20
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.8551

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