Women and Socialism, Socialism and Women: Europe Between the Two World Wars

Women and Socialism, Socialism and Women: Europe Between the Two World Wars

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Until recently, histories of women tended to be segregated from the larger historical context. This pioneering volume places the role of women within the history of the interwar years, whenboth the women's and socialist movements became prominent, and raises the key question of how power was distributed between the genders in a historical setting. The emblematic title of this volume highlights the fundamental conception of this comparative study of eleven West European countries: that in the interwar decades two great movements gained in strength, converged, diverged, competed, and cooperated. Each of these movements is viewed as acomplex matrix of organized and unorganized participants. However, by far the most provocative questions deal with gender relations. Central to these are definitions of femininity and masculinity in terms of mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion at the workplace, in the home, and in the political arena. The mystique of the "new woman" in the 1920s and the 1930s challenged traditional notions of gender identity and relations, not the least of which was the redefinition of the role of men. The main issue addressed in this volume is not how male socialists "dealt with" the woman question or how women functioned in or outside left-wingparties; it rather centers on illustrating the power distribution between the sexes in specific political and cultural contexts. This rigorously focused and coherent volume, to which some of the best-known scholars in the field have contributed, will no doubt establish itself as the standard reference work for years to come.

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