Contrasting Debates and Perspectives from Second and Third Wave Feminists in Britain: Class, Work and Activism
The dissertation rests firstly on the author’s previously published work (German, 1989; German, 2007; German, 2013) which attempted to analyse the position of women in British society in terms of their relationship to class, work and oppression; and secondly on original research in the form of interviews with a number of Second Wave and Third Wave feminists, which aimed to elicit their responses to a variety of questions in relation to class, women’s role at work, and feminist activism. The aim is to contrast the expectations and influences of the different generations of feminists in order to understand what has motivated them and what issues continued to be important for them. The research investigates differences between the two groups of women, considering the extent to which this reflects the different economic and social circumstances in which they were shaped politically. It argues that there is a strong ideological commitment to women’s equality across the different age groups, itself based on the inability of successive generations to achieve full equality, but that there are considerable differences of approach to activism and campaigning priorities, as well as to some theoretical questions. It considers the extent to which the Third Wave reflects a fragmentation from Second Wave approaches. It argues that the continued centrality of class in understanding women’s oppression and other forms of oppression is related to the discrepancy between the expectations of oppressed groups for equality and capitalism’s structural inability to deliver such equality.