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The Left Behind: Representations of Working-Class Masculinities in British Culture 1945-1989

Crowley, Matthew (2018) The Left Behind: Representations of Working-Class Masculinities in British Culture 1945-1989. PhD thesis, University of Brighton.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Crowley, Matthew

This study offers an analysis of representations of white, heterosexual, working-class masculinities in British culture between 1945 and 1989. As the period that saw the establishment of the Welfare State, and the construction and breakdown of the post-war consensus in British politics, this is a period of great significance in the formation and maintenance of working-class masculinities and their correspondent representations. The study aims to reinstate class as a central precept in the study of British cultural representations and uses Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of ‘habitus’ and Judith Butler’s concept of ‘performativity’ to demonstrate that the categories of class and gender are discursively constructed (Bourdieu, 2008: 170, Butler, 2008: 206). In doing so the research is able to draw from Michel Foucault’s archaeological methodology to engage with the discursive formations that constitute these categories and thus engage with both the historical continuities and the historical discontinuities, or ruptures, that constitute the category of ‘working-class masculinity’ in any given period. Within this process Raymond Williams’s concept of ‘structures of feeling’ is employed as a practical means of charting these discursive shifts within cultural representations (1977: 132). The texts studied here clearly demonstrate the extent to which the historical shifts, which become apparent as ‘structures of feeling’ and are loosely aligned with decades here, created a different, often divergent, set of demands within the category of ‘workingclass man’. These demands were both novel, in that the desires, expectations and aspirations of working-class men altered over time, and familiar, as for much of the latetwentieth century these demands remain rooted in the performative practices of what I term a ‘traditional’ working-class masculinity. The study charts the loss of these ‘traditional’ working-class masculinities as postmodern culture, ‘disorganized capitalism’ and the ‘crisis of the knowable community’ eroded or irrevocably altered the precepts upon which they were founded (Lash and Urry, 1993: 229, Williams, 1974: 14). The study shows the ideological nature of the categories of ‘working-class masculinities’ and demonstrates that what was, would, and could be said about workingclass men profoundly altered between 1945 and 1989. Ultimately the study demonstrates how this shift in discourse effected what it meant to be a working-class man in Britain.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Chelsea College of Arts
Date: 23 May 2018
Date Deposited: 31 May 2022 10:41
Last Modified: 31 May 2022 10:41
Item ID: 18205
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/18205

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