Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The fashioning of a new world : youth culture and the origins of the mass outdoor movement in Interwar Britain
Author: Thompson, Simon Robert
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
In the early 1930s, the 'hiking craze' transformed strenuous walking in the country from a minority leisure activity into a mass outdoor movement. This thesis examines the social and cultural origins of the movement. Many commentators at the time portrayed hiking as a youth movement, representing a radical break with the past. Subsequent academic studies have emphasised continuity with one of two pre-war traditions: an upper-middle-class, intellectual, neo-romantic walking tradition; and an upper-working- and lower-middle-class, mainly nonconformist, tradition of self-improvement and 'rational recreation'. Some historians have highlighted ideological aspects of the mass outdoor movement, often conflating it with the campaign for access to open country and in some cases portraying 'the battle for the countryside' as a conflict between urban socialist workers and Tory landowners. This has led to the widely held conception that the mass outdoor movement was above all a phenomenon associated with the industrial towns flanking the southern Pennines, where the highest profile access protests took place. Drawing upon newspaper reports, social surveys, autobiographies, oral histories, club records and the archives of the main associations linked to the outdoor, access and preservation movements, this thesis argues that past studies have placed undue reliance upon sources documenting the fears and aspirations of a relatively small number of vocal middle-aged, middle-class leaders of the outdoor movement, or equally exceptional working-class activists, while neglecting the motivations of the vast majority of walkers. An over-emphasis on the neo-romantic and campaigning aspects of the movement has obscured its role in creating a social space within which youths and young adults of both sexes could interact, beyond the supervision of adult authority figures. The thesis argues that the mass outdoor movement was more geographically widespread and socially diverse than previous studies have suggested, and that it was essentially apolitical and escapist. Young hikers nevertheless believed themselves to be part of a new social movement, and a defining characteristic of that movement was youth. Some two decades before the appearance of the 'Teddy Boys' and 'Mods' - the first widely acknowledged expressions of mass youth culture in Britain - hikers had many of the characteristics now associated with a youth movement, including their own distinctive dress and behavioural conventions. While the two pre-War traditions remained influential in the interwar years, particularly in relation to the preservation and access movements, neither of them can explain the sudden emergence of the 'hiking craze' and the mass outdoor movement that evolved Simon Thompson The Fashioning of a New World from it. Reinterpreting the movement as an early manifestation of mass youth culture sheds new light on evolving social relations between generations, classes and genders, and provides fresh insights into changing attitudes to, and usage of, the countryside in the two decades following the First World War.
Supervisor: Burns, Robert Arthur ; Readman, Paul Andrew Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available