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Aspects of UK Popular Culture in the Nineteen Seventies

Abstract : In the 1970s, to almost everyone’s surprise, the post-war boom came to a grinding halt, accompanied by a very high level of industrial strife. Yet at the same time, a number of social changes and values continued to work their way through the fabric of the community. The legalization of homosexuality in 1967, as well as making Britain a safer place to live for gays, allowed homosexual rights movements to rise and begin a dialogue with (initially reluctant) left wing currents. The women’s rights’ legislative advances, and the examples of the Black and Women’s movements from the USA gave rise to a flourishing and variegated movement against different aspects of women’s oppression. The children of non-white immigrants found themselves both scapegoated for the unemployment and misery caused by the economic crisis, and considerably less willing to keep a low profile politically and culturally (as almost all their parents had felt obliged to do). What effect did this heady brew of experience and struggle have on popular culture: on music, television and cinema in particular? Popular culture does not generally “reflect” or “react” immediately or in any simple manner to social change. Much of the artistic sense and structures of feeling of songwriters, directors or scriptwriters are formed by long-term developments: we are often led to speak of a “generation” of creators. The tastes, attitudes and priorities of audiences, too, are crystallized over longish periods; changes not normally directly related to popular culture – such as the abolition of military service at the end of the 1950s, the reduction in the size of families, or the rise in the number of young people going to university – are likely to be more influential on audience priorities than one might think.
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John Mullen. Aspects of UK Popular Culture in the Nineteen Seventies. Le Royaume-Uni à l’épreuve de la crise 1970-1979, Ellipses, 2016, 9 782340 014374. ⟨hal-02480723⟩

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