A Critical Woman
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A Critical Woman : Barbara Wootton, Social Science and Public Policy in the Twentieth Century

By (author) Ann Oakley

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Barbara Wootton was one of the extraordinary public figures of the twentieth century. She was an outstanding social scientist, an architect of the welfare state, an iconoclast who challenged conventional wisdoms and the first woman to sit on the Woolsack in the House of Lords. Ann Oakley has written a fascinating and highly readable account of the life and work of this singular woman, but the book goes much further. It is an engaged account of the making of British social policy at a critical period seen through the lens of the life and work of a pivotal figure. Oakley tells a story about the intersections of the public and the private and about the way her subject's life unfolded within, was shaped by, and helped to shape a particular social and intellectual context.

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  • Hardback | 464 pages
  • 162 x 238 x 40mm | 879.96g
  • 15 Aug 2011
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Bloomsbury Academic
  • London
  • English
  • New.
  • 24 b/w photos
  • 1849664684
  • 9781849664684
  • 1,996,051

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Author Information

Ann Oakley is a leading British sociologist and writer. She is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the Institute of Education, University of London, where she set up the Social Science Research Unit and the EPPI-Centre, an enterprise devoted to making social research useful to policy-makers. She is the author of many books. Her non-fiction includes The Sociology of Housework (1974), Becoming A Mother (1979), Experiments in Knowing (2000) and Gender on Planet Earth (2002). Among her novels are A Proper Holiday (1996), Overheads (1999), and The Men's Room (1988), which was made into a BBC TV series.

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Review quote

An engrossing and vivid account of a remarkable woman, undeservedly forgotten, who is rightly 'recovered' for us in this fine biography, which is richly detailed, elegantly written and meticulously researched. Baroness Patricia Hollis This immensely readable biography combines the personal story of an outstanding public person with the intellectual story of social research in the past century. It rescues from oblivion a woman social scientist who, like so many of her generation, unstintingly devoted her life to improving social knowledge, only to be forgotten by new waves of political and intellectual fashions. Unputdownable! E. Stina Lyon, professor emeritus of sociology, London South Bank University Barbara Wootton's life of public engagement was remarkable ... Ann Oakley describes how [her] conviction that the economic and the social must be integrated led Wootton towards sociology ... Oakley shows too how Wootton pierced through received views of propriety with a resolute sense of personal justice. Sheila Rowbotham, Times Higher Education What makes this biography an important contribution to sociology is not only the impressive detail of its scholarly as well as humanistic and ethical approach to personal evidence, but also its careful attention to methodological issues inherent in 'doing a life' with its many 'fateful moments' shaped by a combination of personal drive and social and political constellations. The critical attention it pays to Wootton's many publications and research reports makes this biography a contribution to the history of ideas as well as to a history of the development of social research in political practice ... engrossingly written and highly moving. -- E Stina Lyon, London South Bank University, UK Work, Employment & Society

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