People, places and identities

Themes in British social and cultural history, 1700s–1980s

Editors: Alan Kidd and Melanie Tebbutt

This book of essays on British social and cultural history since the eighteenth century draws attention to relatively neglected topics including personal and collective identities, the meanings of place, especially locality, and the significance of cultures of association. The essays capture in various ways the cultural meanings of political and civic life, from their expression in eighteenth-century administrative practices, to the evolving knowledge cultures of county historical societies, the imaginative and material construction of place reputations and struggles to establish medical provision for the working-class in the face of entrenched special interests. They also explore the changing relationship between the state and the voluntary sector in the twentieth-century and the role of popular magazines and the press in mediating and shaping popular opinion in an era of popular democracy. It is of interest that several of the essays take Manchester or Lancashire as their focus. Themes range from rural England in the eighteenth century to the urbanizing society of the nineteenth century; from the Home Front in the First World War to voluntary action in the welfare state; from post 1945 civic culture to the advice columns of teenage magazines and the national press. Various aspects of civil society connect these themes notably: the different identities of place, locality and association that emerged with the growth of an urban environment during the nineteenth century and the shifting landscape of public discourse on social welfare and personal morality in the twentieth-century.

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