University of Leicester
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Women and the work of cultural production in ATV’s regional television news, 1956-1968

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posted on 2013-10-08, 15:08 authored by Gillian Murray
The parallel histories of the establishment of regional television news and the changing patterns of women’s employment in the English Midlands are the focus of this study. Analysing the points of intersection between these two historical processes provides new historical insight into the pace of social change in a period characterised by historians as a time of flux, rupture and transformation, but also, particularly in the context of women’s history, as one of staid and sober living. In order to study these histories concurrently this research is based on an exploration of an extant collection of regional television news inserts, originated by Associated Television (ATV) for the Midlands broadcast region from its first broadcast in 1956 up to 1968. The moving image materials captured by the cameras of the regional news teams, and now available in an online digital archive, are the fragments of news stories filmed on location in the streets, workplaces and occasionally homes of the Midlands and edited into the daily news broadcasts. The resulting analysis presented in this thesis details the various ways in which ‘ordinary’ women, as well as those paid to work at ATV, were made visible in ATV’s television news programmes. For most women their ordinariness was defined by the fact that they were not paid for their television work, but also provides a category of analysis throughout this study. This thesis argues that ambiguities surrounding what was ordinary ‘women’s work’ was central to their participation in this site of cultural production. By providing a critical evaluation of the agency embodied by ordinary women in the regional television news the public dimension of women’s ‘dual role’ is recovered. This provides a route to contest understandings of mid-century domesticity to a far greater extent than previous accounts of women’s history. The thesis concludes that the pace of change in women’s lives was far more rapid than has previously been suggested. That the ‘ordinary housewives’ of the mid-twentieth century paved the way for change in the lives of later generations of women, normalising women’s position in the workplace and becoming visibly recognised as a social force in the transformation of society in the 1950s and 1960s.



Horrocks, Sally; Sweet, Rosemary

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Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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