Introduction
in Feeling the strain
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The book endeavours to answer the question of why stress became ubiquitous in Britain by the end of the twentieth century, and this section introduces and establishes the concept of stress. It examines the existing historiography and context, situating stress within debates about medicalisation, psychologisation and professionalisation as well as the rise of consumer culture and individualism. It introduces the ways in which gender and class governed understanding and explores the acknowledged fluidity and flexibility of the concept and its usefulness to various interests at different times. Explanation of the methodological approach taken and discussion of sources such as Mass Observation and the British Library Sound Archive’s oral history collections are also provided and use of terminology clarified. A brief outline of each of the chapters is given, mapping the chronological structure of the book.

Feeling the strain

A cultural history of stress in twentieth-century Britain

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