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Conflicting lives : women's work in planned communities

Foord, Joanna (1990) Conflicting lives : women's work in planned communities. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86118) (KAR id:86118)


The research reported in this thesis is concerned with the relationship between spatial organisation and gender divisions. It is suggested that gender is the basis of an unequal social division between men and women which integrally affects spatial structure. It is also argued that this inter-relationship raises questions about the kind of explanations which are given for spatial change. The importance of the growth in feminist research in social science as a whole In providing the context and direction for questioning the relationship between space and gender is acknowledged as is the influence of the theoretical and political debates within the wider Women's Movement. In Part I the relationship between gender divisions and spatial structure is explored at the urban scale. Drawing on the feminist literature in urban studies, geography and women's studies the social and spatial separation of women in the domestic arena of reproduction is outlined. The impact of this segregation on women's lives and opportunities is discussed. Explanations for the separation of reproduction from production are linked to the emergence of industrial capitalism and to crises in both social and biological reproduction. Social and spatial segregation is then discussed in relation to the incorporation of stereotyped assumptions of gender into the ideals and practices of post-war British planning. It is argued that post-war planning, particularly the development of new towns, provides a clear example of the inter-action between dominant social assumptions of gender divisons and the active organisation of urban space. An empirical focus is provided through a study of the impact of segregation on women's lives in two post-war Scottish new towns - East Kilbride and Cumbernauld. This uses the results of 90 interviews with women in their own homes. These highlighted the inadequacies of the planned segregated environment for women in the domestic sphere and the problems faced by women who cross the divide by taking on paid employment. In Part II the inter-relationship of gender divisions and spatial organisation at the regionar scale is examined. Here the growth in women's employment in the new locations of the peripheral regions is discussed. The role of regional and new town policy are highlighted. Explanations for the emergence of a gender division of labour are outlined and the place of women's labour in regional change are discussed. It is argued that the' restructuring debate provides a framework for examining the relationship between gender divisions of labour and spatial organization. Thus the inter- dependence of gender relations and spatial organisation and the creation of particular local settings for economic and social change are stressed. The local economic context for the two study new towns in the Clyde Valley is outlined, The nature of women's employment in East Kilbride and Cumbernauld is described through employment data and case studies major local employers of women. Changes in the nature of women's employment and the Composition of the female labour force are indicated. Finally this thesis is drawn together through re-examining the research questions an how and why gender divisions are incorporated into spatial organisation. This is done with reference to the empirical and theoretical discussions of earlier chapters. Future areas of research are suggested as is

the need to reconsider the basis of gender relations and patriarchy as explanatory tools.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86118
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Women's gender roles
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GR Folklore
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:29 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2022 12:24 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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