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Politics and Everyday Life in Interwar Britain

Questions to prepare for seminar:

      1. Can the success of Baldwin’s Conservative Party to be explained in terms of its ability to respond to the shifting identity of ‘the nation’ in the period? E.g. why did the Conservative party stay in power?
      2. To what degree can it be said that the working classes in inter-war Britain shared a collective ‘consciousness’ and/or ‘identity’ [NB these terms mean slightly different things].

       Core Reading:

      • Selina Todd, The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class (2014) – Chapter 4 ‘Dole’, pp.61-95 AND chapter 5 ‘Politics at the Palais’, pp.99-115.
        [This is a newer and quite controversial re-take on the history of the working class in Britain. Think about whether and how it is different to some of the other reading this week.]


      Further Reading:

      • For everyday life/ living conditions in the interwar period: Roberts, A Woman’s Place: An Oral History of Working-Class Women, 1890-1940 (1984); Humphries, Hooligans or Rebels? An Oral History of Working-Class Childhood and Youth, 1889-1939 (1981); Olechnowicz, Working-Class Housing in England Between the Wars: The Becontree Estate (1997); White, The Worst Street in North London: Campbell Bunk, Islington, Between the Wars (1986); A.A. Jackson, Semi-Detached London, 2nd ed. (1991); Baxendale, Priestley’s England: J.B. Priestley and English Culture (2007).
      • Some contemporary accounts: Greenwood, Love on the Dole (1983); Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier (1937); M.V. Hughes, A London Family Between the Wars (1940); A.P. Jephcott, Girls Growing Up (1942); Woodruff, The Road to Nab End: A Lancashire Childhood (2002);
      • Working Conditions and Trade Union Politics: Savage, ‘Trade Unionism, Sex Segregation, and the State: Women’s Employment in “New Industries” in Inter-war Britain’, Social History (1988).
      • For differing views of the nature of class divisions within Britain in the first half of the century: D. Cannadine, Class in Britain (1998); Ross McKibbin, Classes and Cultures: England 1918-1951 (1998); Perkin, The Rise of Professional Society: England since 1880 (1989); and for a useful review of some of this recent literature on Britain and class: J. Lawrence, ‘The British Sense of Class’, Journal of Contemporary History, 35 (2000), 307-18.
      • For interwar parliamentary politics: McKibbin, R. (1991), ‘Class and Conventional Wisdom: The Conservative Party and the ‘Public’ in Inter-war Britain’ in The Ideologies of Class: Social Relations in Britain 1880-1950 pp. 259-293 (Digitised Source).
      • If you’re interested in the economic causes and impacts of the Depression, have a look at: Stevenson & C. Cook, Britain in the Depression: Society and Politics (1994); S.N. Broadberry, ‘The Emergence of Mass Unemployment’, Economic History Review 1990, and debate with S. Glynn & A. Booth, Economic History Review (1992).