chapter  7
6 Pages

PLACE, LOCALITY AND GENDERED LOCAL CULTURES

In this chapter, I move from the discussion of the general conditions of women’s lives in post-war Britain to look at the specifics of the 25 Latvian women’s lives as their stay in the UK lengthened from months into years. I look at the types of paid employment that Latvian European Voluntary Workers (EVWs) undertook after they were released from their legally-required period as involuntary or directed labourers, both in the formal and informal labour markets, in family businesses and otherwise and assess the extent to which they achieved occupational and social mobility in the post-war decades. I also explore the conflicts and contradictions of everyday life and their resolution and capture something of the pleasures and delight, as well as toil and strife, these women experienced as they combined employment with marriage and motherhood. Next, in the following chapter, the focus is extended, moving out from the home to address Latvian’s women’s community involvement and their stalwart efforts to establish forms of communal solidarity through political and other forms of organising in the UK. In this current chapter, however, the emphasis is not only on the types and conditions of work that Latvian women undertook in the labour market in 1950s Britain, on their home lives and they ways in which they combined the two sets of responsibilities but also on the places in which they lived in their initial years. Their geographical location in particular parts of the country played a significant part in structuring the opportunities and disadvantages they faced in their lives in Britain.