Men in reserve

British civilian masculinities in the Second World War

This book focuses on working class civilian men who as a result of working in reserved occupations were exempt from enlistment in the armed forces. It utilises fifty six newly conducted oral history interviews as well as autobiographies, visual sources and existing archived interviews to explore how they articulated their wartime experiences and how they positioned themselves in relation to the hegemonic discourse of military masculinity. It considers the range of masculine identities circulating amongst civilian male workers during the war and investigates the extent to which reserved workers draw upon these identities when recalling their wartime selves. It argues that the Second World War was capable of challenging civilian masculinities, positioning the civilian man below that of the ‘soldier hero’ while, simultaneously, reinforcing them by bolstering the capacity to provide and to earn high wages, both of which were key markers of masculinity.

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‘This well-researched volume belongs in all WW II collections.'
J. R. Breihan, Loyola University Maryland
Choice
September 2017

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