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Mrs Home: the moral and cultural construction of domesticity and respectability between the wars

Leach, Rebecca

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Abstract

This article uncovers archive material from the Foundations of Sociology archive: the output of the Institute of Sociology (Le Play House), exploring the cultural constructions of gendered domesticity and respectability among the lives of the poor and poorly housed in Chester in the interwar period. Focusing on a discursive re-analysis of original photographs and research notes recording the interior material cultures of home, hygiene, and decor, the article demonstrates that the characterization of the poor as morally and decoratively “failing” was embedded even in those “action researchers” of the Institute who sought direct social change. Depicting household interior photographs, plans, handwritten commentary, and personal material, the archive reveals another dimension of what is also a familiar, contemporary trope: the unwitting but damaging construction of the poor as Other.

Acceptance Date Nov 3, 2016
Publication Date Feb 15, 2018
Journal Home Cultures
Print ISSN 1740-6315
Publisher Routledge
Pages 137-165
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/17406315.2017.1373444
Keywords home, Institute of Sociology, Le Play House, poverty, domesticity, respectability, interiors,
Chester, 1919-39
Publisher URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17406315.2017.1373444

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