This is an excellent documentary for A-level sociology students studying the families and households option.
The documentary explores the experience of being a single parent in the Victorian era, through the 1960s, into the 1990s, with the conservative championing of the married, nuclear family, and through to the the present day.
Jamelia makes an excellent host, she’s very empathetic with the women she interviews during the documentary, I guess given her experience of being a single parent, which she also talks about.
The documentary is well organised into the following general sections:
Single Mums in Victorian workhouses
It seems that this was the lot of single parents in the Victorian era – seperated from their children and both sent to workhouses. Grim!
Single Mums in the 1960s
Despite the ‘sexual liberation’ of the ‘swinging ’60s’ there was still a stigma attached to getting pregnant out of wedlock. This section features a heart-wrenching interview with a woman who got pregnant at 14 and was coerced by her parents to have her baby in a distant ‘hospital’ and immediately give it up for adoption.
The Conservative backlash against single mums in the 1990s
The documentary also explores some of the more recent moral panic over single parenting – there’s a very interesting section at the end where a statistician exposes the way stats on ‘problem children of single parents’ are reported in a misleading way.
This is just a brief summary. The documentary is from 2011 (originally it aired on BBC3), but it’s still a useful historical source, especially the section on the 1960s!
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