Working-class leisure in English towns 1945-1960 : with special reference to Coventry and Bolton
The popular perception of the years 1945 to 1960 is that they constituted a transitional period from austerity to affluence. Material gains in the post-war years gradually increased, enhanced by full-employment, the establishment of the welfare state and a growing quantity of consumer goods. At first glance, it seems that working-class people's nonmaterial life, too, greatly changed. 'Traditional' leisure such as cinema-, pub- and football-going declined, replaced by more consumption-oriented, home- and family-centred leisure, such as television watching, do-it-yourself and pleasure motoring. Critics have seen this was symptomatic of the erosion of 'traditional' working-class-life styles, underlined by more communal and solidaristic social relationships. A close examination of post-war leisure in two workingclass towns questions the above dichotomy, and shows the significant continuity and diversity of people's leisure patterns. These were often deeply divided according to gender, age, life-stage and locality. Despite the rapidly changing trends of commercial leisure, and the increased intervention of the public sector in social life, the selfdetermined nature of working-class leisure does not seem to have been eroded. On the contrary, the general affluence of post-war Britain seems to have contributed in a modest way to increased leisure opportunities in which people could express their personal and social identity with less hesitation than before.