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Matriarchs Of England's Cooperative Movement

Overview

Current thinking considers the Women's Cooperative Guild within the English Cooperative Movement to have been an independent and democratically run organization whose leaders built sisterhood across class lines and achieved many benefits for married working-class women. This study of the dynamics of gender within the movement between 1883 and 1921 arrives at different conclusions. Blaszak examines what freedoms of speech and activity women were permitted within the movement, as well as what resources they were ...

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Overview

Current thinking considers the Women's Cooperative Guild within the English Cooperative Movement to have been an independent and democratically run organization whose leaders built sisterhood across class lines and achieved many benefits for married working-class women. This study of the dynamics of gender within the movement between 1883 and 1921 arrives at different conclusions. Blaszak examines what freedoms of speech and activity women were permitted within the movement, as well as what resources they were given to accomplish their tasks. Ultimately, the parameters set by the men would determine the type of female leadership that emerged and whether it was able to realize its feminist and utopian agendas.

Setting the organization's activities within the context of gender relations in the Cooperative Movement, Blaszak finds that the Guild was much more dependent and much less democratically directed than has usually been supposed. Restrictions established by male cooperators and enhanced by the realities of working-class life turned the Guild into a clique dominated by a few. Even the Guild's most revered leader, Margaret Llewelyn Davies, found it impossible to escape the gendered socio-economic circumstances in which she labored at her ministry to improve the lives of working-class women. Consequently, her leadership inadvertently assisted male cooperators in their attempts to limit possibilities for women.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
After situating the Women's Cooperative Guild in the English anti- capitalist Cooperative Commonwealth Movement of the 1840s which sought to create a "new moral world," Blaszak (history, Le Moyne College, Syracuse, NY) probes the movement's gendered geography; leadership of the ; and the World War I-era gender war pitting the Guild's "Women's Corner" editor against the men of the Cooperative Union, who controlled the newspaper's funding and proposed creating a separate woman's periodical to exclude women's voices from the movement's official mouthpiece. Includes period photos of Guild members. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313309953
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/30/1999
  • Series: Contributions in Labor Studies Series , #56
  • Pages: 222
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

BARBARA J. BLASZAK is an Associate Professor and the Chair of the Department of History at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. She has published works about the Cooperative Movement in England and on women's roles in that movement. She is a past president of the New York State Association of European Historians and is active in the Middle Atlantic Conference on British Studies.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Women in the English Cooperative Movement

Women's Space/Women's Place

The "Woman's Corner" of the Co-operative News

The Gendered Geography of the Cooperative Movement

Angels in the Store

The Early Leaders of the Women's Cooperative Guild

Margaret Llewelyn Davies: A Woman with a Mission

The Dysfunctional Commonwealth

Rent at the Seams: Sisterhood in the Women's Cooperative Guild

The Battle between the Sexes in the Cooperative Movement

Conclusion

Contradictions and Conflicts

Bibliography

Index

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