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Title: Feminism and democracy : the women's suffrage movement in Britain, with particular reference to the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies 1897-1918
Author(s): Holton, Sandra
Issue Date: 1980
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: The main purpose of this study is to provide a re-assessment of the early twentieth century women's suffrage movement, thereby challenging much of the existing historiography of this subject. The approach is based upon the premise that it is not possible to understand the nature and significance of the women's suffrage movement through accounts of the lives of a few of its charismatic leaders. A far broader analytical framework is necessary. This begins with the nature of the arguments about women and their place in society, which were utilised in support of votes for women. It then extends to an analysis of the success gained in conveying such ideas to a wide body of women, who in the case of Britain, if not elsewhere in Europe and North America, were drawn from all social classes. The final step is to assess the impact of the women's suffrage movement upon the broader political system in which it operated. For the eventual success of the movement in gaining votes for women cannot be explained solely in terms of its own internal dynamics. Rather it is necessary to examine the inter-action between the way the various suffrage organisations viewed and related to the current political environment, and the way political leaders and parties viewed and acted in response to suffrage activities. This analytical framework unites two strands of historical research which at present seem to have developed in isolation from each other. That is, it combines the concern of the new feminist historiography with the evolution of modern sex-roles, with the more traditional political and constitutional historians' interest in women's suffrage as a problem for party politics and public order.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Arts and Humanities
History and Politics

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