Date of Award
Master of Arts
Both housewives and the black market have been absent in much of the scholarly research studying World War Two and the British home front. The traditional view of British society as a monolithic group which came together under the rules of rationing and austerity during and after the war years is an outdated narrative which needs reexamined. This study examines the role of the traditional housewife in relationship to the black market during and after World War Two, including the time of the Attlee government. Discontent with rationing policy and austerity helped to fuel the development of a large black market in Britain both during and after the Second World War. Housewives made up the largest adult population on the British home front and because of their subaltern position within society, their agency as consumers was underestimated, helping make them the perfect consumer in the black market. Their role in society kept them in the shadows, with minimal scrutiny. Minimal scrutiny is a key factor in the completion of a successful black market transaction, because a successful black market transaction leaves no official record. This study uses many primary and secondary sources, including newspaper articles to establish the existence of a large black market in Britain during and after the war and examine the participation of housewives in the black market.
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