The article first considers changes in femininity with relationship to work and sexuality, then examines changing reflections upon masculinity and family life and concludes with a consideration of the cultural representation of changes in gender identities in the fifties.
Though they did not completely displace established understandings of gender and class within the working classes, the experience of war and unemployment in the first half of the twentieth-century were powerful catalysts in the confusion of gender identities.
Given these changes, we can therefore suggest that by the beginning of the 1950s, though a distinction between women's work in the home and work in the public sphere continued to demarcate gender identities within the working classes--the normative remained the man as worker and the woman as non-working wife or mother--it did so an increasingly unreliable fashion.
Very early in this development, writers in the fifties emphasized the importance changes in women's work held for the transformation of working class life and gender identities.
Many studies of working class life in the fifties emphasized that changes in gender identities were central to a more general transformation of the working classes.
But other studies did suggest significant shifts in gender identities as they related to work, sexuality, and the home.
Young, Willmott, Zweig and Mogey suggested that changes in gender identities had, for the most part, occurred harmoniously.