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'The people who write to us are the people who don't like us:' Class, Gender and Citizenship in the Survey of Sickness, 1943-1952.

Payling, Daisy (2020) ''The people who write to us are the people who don't like us:' Class, Gender and Citizenship in the Survey of Sickness, 1943-1952.' Journal of British Studies, 59 (2). 315 - 342. ISSN 0021-9371

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Abstract

The Second World War and the rise of social medicine in 1940s Britain reframed population health as a social problem in need of state investigation. The resulting Government inquiry, the Survey of Sickness, sampled the whole adult population of England and Wales, engaging a broader and more diverse public in public health research for the first time. Complaints made against the Survey of Sickness reveal a complex set of relationships between different sections of the public and the British state. This article situates complaints about privacy and liberty, wasted resources, and those which questioned the authority of Survey fieldworkers, in the context of wider resistance to post-war controls. By refusing to divorce these complaints from the material circumstances of the people who made them, this article argues that the role of the public in public health was up for negotiation in post-war Britain, for those with the social, economic and political capital to negotiate. The everyday politics of the Survey’s doorstep encounters were heavily influenced by gendered notions of home and citizenship. Exploration of how different sections of the public were constructed by public health and how they responded to that construction develops our knowledge of the hierarchies of expertise under formation, whilst illuminating how class and gender informed contemporary understandings of citizenship in the emerging post-war British state.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2019 08:14
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2020 11:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/24980

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