‘Modern' Families in 'Traditional' Communities: Women, Family Life and Kin in Postwar Industrial Monmouthshire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Deirdre Beddoe describes the years between 1945 and 1970 as ‘one of the most neglected, complex and fascinating periods’ for Welsh women in which ‘powerful contradictory forces were at work in shaping women’s lives pulling them in opposite directions at the same time.’ Recognising the rise in standard of living for married women, expanded employment opportunities, longer life expectancy and a changing life cycle made possible by use of birth control, she also emphasises continuities such as the continued primacy of domesticity, low educational and career aspirations and rigid ideals of femininity. Set against the socio-economic context of the coastal town of Newport and its industrial hinterland, this article assesses the extent to which ‘traditional’ close-knit communities characterised by highly-connected kin networks were being usurped by ‘modern’ nuclear families in the 1950s and 60s and considers women’s agency in driving this perceived social change. Using a sample of interviews collected as part of a larger project on motherhood in the postwar period, women’s experiences of marriage, extended family and community are explored.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-209
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2021


  • family life
  • social change
  • women's employment
  • companionate marriage
  • kin networks
  • community


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