Migrant Women's Voices: Talking About Life and Work in the UK Since 1945 (Paperback)
  • Migrant Women's Voices: Talking About Life and Work in the UK Since 1945 (Paperback)
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Migrant Women's Voices: Talking About Life and Work in the UK Since 1945 (Paperback)

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Paperback 280 Pages / Published: 25/02/2016
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Between 1945 and the new century millions of women, including mothers and migrants, joined the labour force. These changes are brought to life through the stories of migrant women, working in factories and hospitals, banks, care homes, shops and universities over a period of 60 years. Migrant Women's Voices is an autobiography of the post-war period as Britain became a multi-cultural society and waged work the norm for most women. McDowell illustrates the shift in migration patterns as post-imperial migrants to the UK replaced the immediate post-war pattern of migrants from war-torn Europe and who were then themselves joined by migrants from an increasingly diverse range of countries as the 20th century drew to a close.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 9781474224482
Number of pages: 280
Weight: 437 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 20 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
A collection of the stories that women tell other women about how to fit into the world ... McDowell gives a platform for [migrant women] to tell the story in [their] own words, which is one of this book's greatest strengths. * Times Higher Education *
This book is a treasure trove of voices usually unheard. * Times Literary Supplement *
A meticulously researched oral history ... What is particularly valuable about this collection is McDowell's willingness to set the experiences of unskilled migrants alongside those with professional qualifications and careers. * History Today *
This entertaining - often touching - book offers a collection of interesting migration biographies that quite impressively shows just how great the contribution of migrants has been to the British economy. * H-Soz-Kult Online (Bloomsbury translation) *
This new book by McDowell (human geography, St. John's College, Oxford) is an extension and expansion of her Working Lives: Gender, Migration and Employment in Britain, 1945-2007 (CH, Feb'14, 51-3451a). An opening chapter sets the context for the oral narratives that follow by emphasizing the importance of Britain's employment transformation from manufacturing to service industries, the limitation for most migrant women to low-paying employment, and the distribution of migrants from the Baltics and Poland post-1945 and then heavily from the new Commonwealth of Africa, the Caribbean, Pakistan, and India from the 1950s onward. The meat of the book lies in chapters 2-8, detailing extensive oral narratives by immigrant women in all kinds of employment (yes, the National Health Service too), including unwaged home work. Discrimination and living as the "other" is the major common thread connecting these 70-plus individuals' recollections of their lives in Britain. Numerous revealing details of personal experience further humanize this data. Jean McCrindle and Sheila Rowbotham in 1977 did a somewhat similar examination of British-born women in Dutiful Daughters: Women Talk about Their Lives. This book has ties to numerous works in sociology and history. A must for strong British collections. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. * CHOICE *
Overall, the vivid and deeply personal accounts of migrant women's experiences, perceptions, and agency as workers in British society make this book both a valuable contribution to migration research and an enjoyable reading. It will undoubtedly appeal to researchers and students and to the general public it targets. * International Migration Review *
[B]eyond being an informative, must-read work for scholars specializing in related topics, it is also accessible, engaging book for students at various levels, as well as for the broader public ... I was eager to read this book, and I was not disappointed. It is eye-opening, highly recommended reading for scholars, practitioners, and the public alike. * Journal of British Studies *
Linda McDowell's Migrant Women's Voices is an important and unusual contribution to economic geography and broader human geography and social history ... The richness of the narrative accounts invites reflection on how this material is presented and on how qualitative interview material is more often presented in academic research-in smaller chunks and with lengthy interpretation. It is this aspect of the book, as an invitation to think about qualitative methods, which I find most engaging. * Economic Geography *
McDowell's choice to let migrant women speak in their own words is an admirable one and is perhaps the book's biggest strength. Not only is she giving a voice to a group that is often ignored, but she is also providing a valuable resource for scholars from a variety of disciplines ... By placing migrant women at the heart of post-war change, this book accords deserved recognition to an under-appreciated group. * Cultural and Social History *
McDowell enables women from generations of immigration to tell their sadly unchanging stories of disgraceful exploitation and discrimination. From wartime refugees from Eastern Europe and hopeful women from the Caribbean, brought by the government to rescue the economy and build health and welfare services after 1945, to 21st century migrants from many cultures and countries, they have made indispensable contributions to sustaining the NHS and other essential services, even banking. Whatever their colour or skills, they have faced hostility and consignment to lower-paid, lower-status work than they merit. * Patricia M. Thane, King's College London, UK *
What do immigrant women say about their work in Britain? Until now, we didn't know, because no one cared to ask or listen. This captivating book gives voice and visibility to generations of immigrant working women in Britain. From textile mill workers of the 1940s, shopkeepers of the 1950s, to the nannies and investment bankers of the 1990s and software developers of today, the narratives reveal experiences of loss, displacement and exploitation, but also aspirations, dignity and achievements. A must read for anyone wanting to understand the texture of life and work in Britain today. * Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, University of Southern California, USA *
The huge and sustained increase in women's economic activity rates is widely regarded as the social revolution of the second half of the twentieth century. In Britain, first and second generation immigrant women were in the vanguard of this change. Linda McDowell uses interviews collected over several decades with over 70 women migrants from a variety of countries and backgrounds to provide a fresh lens on this cataclysmic shift. The interviews, brilliantly woven together, provide compelling stories of loss, struggle, fortitude and hope as well as palpable evidence of migrant women's contributions to British society. There are powerful implications here for current concerns about caring for our aging population, sustaining social services and evaluating the benefits of immigration. * Jane Humphries, All Souls College, University of Oxford *

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