This chapter returns to the wider female associational world, examining attempts to consolidate women's organizations around a non-partisan reformist agenda which reflected their conviction that, however extensively the state might or indeed should intervene, ongoing social problems would continue to provide fertile soil for middle-class social leadership. It examines the Women's Group on Public Welfare and its 1943 study of urban poverty, Our Towns; the local co-ordination of the women's movement through Standing Conferences of Women's Organisations; the role of the Townswomen's Guilds and the Soroptimists in these developments; and the limited wartime revival of feminism and efforts to promote independent women candidates in local elections. The ambition and self-assertiveness of this non-partisan feminine reformism was limited both by the inability of women to take on the male-dominated power of the political parties, and by the growing marginalization of philanthropic forms of authority as social work became increasingly professionalized in the welfare state.
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