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Author: Brad Beaven

This book analyses the development of male leisure against the changing notions of citizenship which underpinned perceptions of British society during the period 1850-1945. It opens with an examination of the 'leisure' problem of the middle decades of the nineteenth century. After the defeat of Chartism and associated challenges to the employers' right to organise the workplace, factory owners, the clergy and philanthropists established schemes of rational recreation designed to attract and educate working-class males. The book explores how schemes of rational recreation attempted to create the model citizen and the impact of these strategies on male working-class leisure. Taking three influential leisure activities - drink, the music hall and association football - the book explores their impact on both concepts of citizenship and male leisure patterns. In addition, commercial leisure also highlighted the marked gender divides in leisure activities found within working-class households. The book investigates the generational issues that shaped male working-class leisure. The increase in non-apprenticed semi-skilled work, particularly in the 'new' industry regions, raised fears that monotonous working practices and new leisure activities were a dangerous social cocktail. Moreover the book investigates how, during the late Victorian and early Edwardian era, the problem of a 'degenerate' youth became entwined with anxieties over the future of empire. It further contextualises male leisure against the dominant concerns between 1918 and 1945. This era saw the suburbanisation of British cities, continued anxieties over male citizenry and increased international tensions that led to war.

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Patriotism, popular culture and the city, 1870–1939
Author: Brad Beaven

This book offers a ground-breaking perspective on how imperial culture was disseminated. It draws on a consistent set of themes that influenced urban life between 1870 and 1939, in addressing the impact of imperialism on popular culture of the British society. The book identifies the important synergies that grew between a new civic culture and the wider imperial project. It explores the local and imperial nexus and whether imperial wars in the far reaches of the British Empire were translated into tangible localised issues. The book examines the role of volunteerism, patriotism and citizen-soldier relationships through two important conflicts, the Boer War and First World War. Drawing on a rich seam of primary sources from Portsmouth, Coventry and Leeds, case studies are considered against an extensive analysis of seminal and current historiography. The evidence drawn suggests that differing social, political and cultural contexts helped determine both a community's civic identity and, significantly, its engagement with national and imperial perspectives. University and religious settlements such as the High Anglican Oxford House, Toynbee Hall and the Oxford House Movement run by Anglo-Catholic slum priests exposed men to a life of service towards their imperial mission. The schooling experience of working-class children in these cities focused on curriculum, physical exercise, and extra-curricular activities. The ebb and flow of imperial enthusiasm was shaped through a fusion of local patriotism and a broader imperial identity. Imperial culture was neither generic nor unimportant but was instead multi-layered and recast to capture the concerns of a locality.

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Brad Beaven

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book analyses the development of male leisure against the changing notions of citizenship which underpinned the perceptions of society during the late nineteenth century. It focuses broadly on the period 1850-1918, which witnessed wholesale changes to urban life, a burgeoning mass society and the growth of an Empire, which, though vast and rapidly expanding, had worrying tensions and weaknesses. The book explores how the schemes of rational recreation attempted to create the model citizen and the impact of these strategies on male working-class leisure. It also analyses specifically how working-class male leisure activities often shifted from the hearts of cities to the self-contained new housing estates that mushroomed in Britain, particularly in the Midlands and Southeast.

in Leisure, citizenship and working-class men in Britain, 1850–1945
Brad Beaven

This chapter investigates the impact that rational recreation had upon working-males' leisure, during a period in which there was a heightened awareness of citizenship with the dawning of a newly democratic age. The rational recreationalists' desire to create the model citizen through the reformation of working-class leisure habits stemmed from a number of factors. The origins of rational recreation lay in the instruction and improvement societies that were formed as an antidote to the emergence of working-class political agitation during the 1830s and 1840s. The Times's optimistic 1867 editorial which predicted that the working man would, with middle-class guidance, mature into a 'civilised' member of the community laid in ruins by the late 1880s. The Times reflected a growing pessimism in the British society, which was aggravated by both domestic and foreign affairs.

in Leisure, citizenship and working-class men in Britain, 1850–1945
The pleasure-seeking citizen
Brad Beaven

This chapter investigates a common assumption, which cuts across the political spectrum, that the rise of mass commercial leisure coincided with a decline of 'good' citizenry. It assesses the role of music hall and public house within male working-class culture, as these key institutions provide a useful test to the hegemonic qualities of mass commercial leisure. The chapter explores how reactions to intemperance in the music hall and public house stimulated both cross-class collaborative and class-specific movements which placed temperance at the heart of their own particular narrative of citizenship. It also explores the attempts by both class-collaborative and class-specific movements to forge narratives of 'good' citizenship by attacking mass commercial leisure and adopting the temperance cause. The chapter presents a football match, one of the most potent forms of mass commercial leisure which provides a case study challenging the notion that mass commercial leisure displaced an authentic working-class culture.

in Leisure, citizenship and working-class men in Britain, 1850–1945
Male youth, work and leisure, 1870–1914
Brad Beaven

The behaviour of male youths in both work and leisure has troubled the minds of social observers from time immemorial. This chapter explores contemporary anxieties that revolved around the youth and citizenry in modern society and the key youth movements formed to alleviate the 'crisis'. Inspired by Charles Booth's survey on the London's poor, a whole host of reports focused on the development of the male youth's work and leisure activities. C. E. B. Russell's textbook was also a hostile response to new forms of youth organisation such as the Scouts, declaring that their movement was 'showy' and unable to train youths for good citizenship. Initiatives to civilise youths by offering 'elevating' leisure clubs gave way to more disciplined and military-inspired youth movements. These movements were intent on instilling a sense of duty, patriotism and masculinity into youths which would help save the British Empire from impending doom.

in Leisure, citizenship and working-class men in Britain, 1850–1945
The rise of ‘suburban neurosis’?
Brad Beaven

This chapter examines how male leisure developed into the new housing estates during a period in which the civic elite retreated from taking an active role in shaping 'civilising' recreation. Indeed, the new estate's isolation from traditional working-class leisure institutions had led a number of historians to insist that males began to suffer from a 'suburban neurosis'. The Peace Day events led to mass disturbances in these three areas (Coventry, Wolverhampton and Luton), which appeared to reflect a growing disillusionment with Victorian schemes of social citizenship. The volatile situation in Coventry was monitored nationally, since the government was increasingly concerned about the prospect of Soviet-style political agitation after the 1917 strike. Structural changes in the British economy and urban environment convinced contemporary researchers that, by the end of the interwar period, there had been significant shifts in patterns of work and leisure.

in Leisure, citizenship and working-class men in Britain, 1850–1945
A continuity in lifestyle
Brad Beaven

The interwar period witnessed a shift in attitudes towards the long-standing 'problem' of male youth leisure. This chapter examines contemporary debates on the youth problem emanating from official and unofficial bodies. It investigates the research and provision of male youth leisure during a period in which unemployment had reached unprecedented levels and there were increasing domestic and international tensions. The chapter explores the key traits in youth culture, challenging the premiss that new work and leisure patterns fostered a new youth lifestyle peculiar to the interwar period. In his innovative study of interwar youth, David Fowler has argued that changes in disposable income and leisure supply, along with the emergence of a youth consumer market, helped create Britain's first teenagers during the interwar period. The chapter draws comparisons between the late-nineteenth-century youth culture and the youth culture that emerged during the interwar period.

in Leisure, citizenship and working-class men in Britain, 1850–1945
Working-class male leisure and ‘good’ citizenship between the wars
Brad Beaven

Mass commercial leisure came of age between the wars. A visit to at least one mass commercial leisure venue, be it a football match, music hall or cinema, had by 1939 become an important weekend ritual for many working men. Technical innovation, and with it the growth of more sophisticated propaganda techniques, marked the interwar period as the era of mass communication. This chapter investigates the expansion of commercial literature, cinema-going and finally radio broadcasting in order to establish whether working-class males really did embrace a more 'homogeneous', less class-specific culture. The impact of reading on leisure patterns between the wars has often been overlooked by historians, as it was essentially a home-based activity. Like reading and cinema-going, national broadcasts during the 1930s have been cited as helping to preserve a social cohesion that protected Britain from the social unrest manifest on the continent.

in Leisure, citizenship and working-class men in Britain, 1850–1945
Brad Beaven

This chapter begins a discussion of how historians have traditionally interpreted the Second World War as a force for change in social relations and cultural values. It explores how the government established a network of intelligence officers and researchers to investigate the working-class leisure activities in a bid to define 'good' citizenship and morale. Although there had been isolated outbreaks of moral panic over the sexual morality of women during the Great War, the Second World War witnessed a more concerted attempt to define the private sphere of women. In the anticipation of a massive aerial attack, many public places in Britain were closed down on the outbreak of war. The impact that war had upon male leisure and notions of citizenship sheds light on the extent to which working people embraced a shared social unity.

in Leisure, citizenship and working-class men in Britain, 1850–1945