Modernisation and the New Left in sixties Britain
The aim of this thesis is to explore the relationship between the New Left and modernisation, and to suggest that modernisation provides a powerful means of understanding the underlying dynamics of Britain's history in the 1960s. This relationship is understood in terms of a politics of space. The New Left is defined broadly for this purpose as a movement emerging from the dislocating experiences of social, cultural and physical mobility in the postwar period. What is termed the 'modernisation project' is more expansive than the technological and scientific modernisation espoused by Harold Wilson in the early 1960s and is understood to address these new, politicized forms of mobility. Whilst one element of this Politics of dislocation and mobility was a concern about affluence and new forms of cultural consumption, another was concerned with the cultural and geographical dislocation of the upwardly-mobile (sometimes thought of in the language of the 'scholarship boy, ' but with the growth of the student population also associated with the notion of a counterculture). The significance of an enlarged and dislocated intelligentsia is explored through the example of British Pop theory, the approach of which was to engage positively with popular culture, emphasising the value of mass-produced cultural forms which had the qualities of rawness and vitality on the one hand, and expendability on the other. British Pop theory employed pop to explore an alternative historical approach to working class culture but also suggested a different approach to upward-mobility. Contested geographies are explored through the example of New Left attitudes towards suburbia, megalopolis and the cultural geography of the North- South divide. 1968 is explored as the moment when the New Left engaged in a particular form of spatial politics: certain types of space were valued for their psychological characteristics, their sociological inaccessibility to the manipulative power of capitalism, and their capacity to liberate the subject from new forms of alienation. The spaces of New Left protest in 1968 are then compared to other examples of radical space based on radical architecture theory. The politics of the barricade are compared to the politics of indeterminacy.