Publication details for Ms Jean SpenceSpence, J. (2010). Collecting Women's Lives: the challenge of feminism in UK youth work in the 1970s and 80s. Women's History Review 19(1): 159 - 176
- Publication type: Journal papers: academic
- ISSN/ISBN: 0961-2025 , 1747-583X
- DOI: 10.1080/09612020903444734
- View online: Online version
- Durham research online: DRO record
Author(s) from Durham
A distinctively feminist youth work movement which flourished between the mid 1970s and the late 1980s has been submerged by organisational change. The feminist political critique which encouraged young women's agency has been replaced by equal opportunities policies and problem-based interventions. Documentary evidence of feminist youth work is now scattered, in danger of being lost like the history of the pre-war Girls' Club Movement which succumbed to 'mixed sex' approaches. This article is informed by the evidence in a small private archive, by empirical research with women youth workers undertaken in North-East England in 1988 and 1993 and by the author's personal recollections. It discusses how feminist efforts to enhance the agency and autonomy of working-class young women and of female youth workers were fractured in the drive towards centralised managerial control characteristic of public sector conditions after the election of the Conservative Government in 1979.