The social history of christchurch young women's christian association, 1883 - 1930.
Type of content
This study of the Christchurch YWCA (1883-1930) is largely concerned with the operation of an organisation within a specific social context, and the relationship of the environment outside the organisation to the internal life of the organisation. This involves both examining the effect of the organisation on its environment, and the effect the environment has on the organisation. Environmental variables played a crucial role in shaping the development of the Christchurch YWCA; in particular, the fact that the study is located within a specific historical period has important implications for the type of questions that must be posed with respect to the development of the YWCA, factors influencing the decisions of the women who administered the organisation, and the implications such decisions had for the position of women in society. Organisational theory and socialist feminism, the perspectives informing this thesis, direct us to ask how and why organisations form; who they intend to serve, and who in fact they end up serving; what constraints both material and ideological, are placed on the organisation in its attempts to realise its goals; what means are used to attain them; and how does an organisation, dedicated to realise the potential of young women, come to perpetuate class relationships, and existing relationships between the sexes? The stereotype of the YWCA as a dull and unimpressive organisation is challenged in this study, as it is shown how the Christchurch Association, in its venerable efforts to meet the changing needs of women and girls, also served interests represented by middle class women, capitalist employers, and the state.