Youth subcultures
in Young lives on the Left
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This chapter explores the political, social, and gendered dynamics of the activist left cultures that preceded the extra-parliamentary scene surrounding the VSC. It shows how young activists’ initial steps into these cultures invariably began with encounters with late fifties and early sixties sub-cultures, including ‘Angry Young Men’ and French existential movements, and CND. The chapter encompasses individuals’ radical reading, dramatic, musical, and other cultural and political experiences, to consider the meaning these held for youngsters in the context of their childhood histories. It addresses the gendered dimension of radical sub-cultural experiences in the early-to-mid 1960s, including young women and men’s experiences inside the YS and the Trotskyist groups, the IS and the International group (later known as the IMG). The argument is that masculine radical cultures added to the contradictory discourses constituting ‘woman’ and ‘man’ that visibly prevailed throughout the post-war society in which interviewees were shaping identities.

Young lives on the Left

Sixties activism and the liberation of the self

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