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Title: The socio-cultural milieux of the left in post-war Britain
Author: Hughes, Celia P.
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis examines the relationship between activist subjectivities and the shaping of Britain’s late sixties extra-parliamentary left cultures. Based on the oral narratives of ninety men and women, it traces the activist trajectory from child to adulthood to understand the social, psychological, and cultural processes informing the political and personal transformation of young adults within the new left cultures that emerged in the wake of Britain’s anti-war movement, the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign (VSC). To this end the study charts the development of the political and cultural shifts on the left over the decade from the early 1960s to the early 1970s. It shows how throughout this period dialogue between inner and outer activist life occurred against a background of ongoing realignment on the left from a fluid, eclectic cultural network around the VSC to a demarcated post- VSC left after 1969, that saw increasing divergence between a non-aligned libertarian New Left on the one hand and a Trotskyist far left milieu on the other. The study seeks to claim a valid space for Britain’s left activist landscape within the political, social and cultural framework of ‘1968’ and British post-war historiography. Privileging individual and collective subjectivities, the thesis examines ways of belonging inside Trotskyist and non-aligned left milieux by situating the respondents, their radical histories and activist cultures within the changing post-war fabric. It shows that investigating individual and collective memories provides deeper understanding of the ‘cognitive maps’ that young men and women created, as they attempted to situate themselves as radical, global beings as well as local, gendered social citizens. As micro-studies the individual stories reveal how the experience of social, emotional and political maturation from child to adult intersected with a specific social and political moment – the formation of a new and distinctive left culture that came to full fruition only in the aftermath of 1968 with the arrival of Women’s Liberation and the new personal politics. Exploring the social and psychological impact of post-war childhood and youth, the study engages with the political and emotional impact of Women’s Liberation on the men and women within the cultural context of the different left milieux. Overall, the thesis questions how, from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, the variant cultures of the milieux penetrated public and private spaces, and shaped early life experiences of work, political activity, family, and political and personal relations in order to understand how activism shaped social patterns and psychic being.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Arts & Humanities Research Council (Great Britain) (AHRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DA Great Britain