Independent Labour Party men and women's suffrage in Britain, 1893-1914
- Publisher: University of Greenwich,
This thesis is a study of the attitudes towards women's enfranchisement, and involvement within the British women's suffrage movement, of the male members of the Independent Labour Party, a mixed sex socialist organisation. The period covered ranges from 1893, the year of the party's foundation, to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. \ud \ud The aim of this study is to contribute to our understanding of a hitherto neglected aspect of suffrage history: the male supporters. Suffrage historians have generally considered Independent Labour Party men's attitudes towards women's enfranchisement to have been positive: their ideas and activities are now placed under careful scrutiny. \ud \ud The theoretical underpinnings of the thesis lie in gender history, most especially in the field of historical studies of masculinities, which in themselves have been informed by the ideas and writings of women's history. Independent Labour Party men are viewed not as a group of individuals with certain physical characteristics in common, but as sharing gendered identities as socialists and as men, which influenced their attitudes towards the roles deemed appropriate for men and women within society, and towards women's emancipation in particular. Furthermore, the thesis assesses how their ideas and identities were themselves challenged by developments within the suffrage movement. \ud \ud Chapter 1 considers the years between 1893-5, a period characterised by few formal links between Independent Labour Party men and the suffrage movement, and assesses how supportive attitudes towards women's enfranchisement fitted into prevailing understandings of socialism and independent labour representation. Chapters 2 and 3, focusing respectively on the periods between 1895-1905, and 1905-1911, consider the impact of a burgeoning suffrage movement, active within the ranks of the labour movement itself, and characterised by its own priorities, objectives and tactics. Chapter 4, dealing with the years between 1911-1914, concludes by assessing Independent Labour Party men's responses to a shift in the suffrage debate, as the introduction in Parliament of adult suffrage became a practical proposition.
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