Family and Class in a London Suburb

By Peter Willmott; Michael Young | Go to book overview

VI
MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS

EVEN in the suburb, the wider family organizes care and support for those in need. In some, at least, of its functions it is similar to its counterpart in the East End. But is it organized in a similar way? In Bethnal Green the kinship system was built around the close tie between mother and daughter -- it was the axis of the local kinship structure. Is it the same in the suburb?

This is not one question but two. The first is whether in Woodford the children's tie is more with the mother than the father. The second is whether the parental tie is more with daughters than sons. We shall discuss each of these questions in turn.


Fathers and mothers

The grandmother, or 'Mum', as she was universally called, was certainly the dominant figure in Bethnal Green. The chief organizer of family parties or of aid, she was something of a matriarchal figure. The local family group, linked together through her bond with her married daughters, was united on her hearth. 'The family rendezvous' was how one woman described her mother's home. 'Mum's is the central depot in this family', said a respectful dustman of his motherin-law.

The fathers, particularly the older ones, were often excluded from this family circle. Townsend found that the more women shared their daily lives with daughters, the less they did with husbands. In many ways the lives of father and mother were separate. There was a sharp financial division

-61-

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Family and Class in a London Suburb
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • I- Profile of a Suburb 1
  • II- House-Centred Couples 15
  • III- Generations Apart 28
  • IV- Are the Parents Deserted? 36
  • V- Growing Old without Children 51
  • VI- Mothers and Daughters 61
  • VII- Class and Family Visiting 77
  • VIII- The Organization of Sociability 87
  • IX- The Pattern of Friendship 99
  • X- The Tensions of Social Class 111
  • XI- In Conclusion -- Life in a Suburb 123
  • Appendix I- Methods of Sampling 133
  • Appendix 2- Interviewers'' Instructions and Interview Schedule for General Survey 139
  • Appendix 3- Effects of Social Mobility 159
  • Appendix 4- Additional Tables 168
  • Appendix 5- Tests of Statistical Significance 172
  • Appendix 6 178
  • Index 181
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