In defence of white freedom: Working men’s clubs and the politics of sociability in late industrial England

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While ongoing discrimination in jobs, welfare and housing in 1970s England belied the social democratic promise of ‘equality of opportunity’ and the much-touted British value of ‘fair play,’ racism at the door of the working men’s club told a different story. For reactionaries and liberals alike, it spoke to the uncertain future of working-class politics in late industrial England. This article shows how the legal and political controversy surrounding whites-only working men's clubs contributes to the history of ‘white working class’ as a political subject in British public life. Even more, it reveals how some club members in 1970s England came to invest whiteness itself with feelings of intimacy, kinship, respectability and independence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515–551
Number of pages37
JournalTwentieth Century British History
Issue number3
Early online date6 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2023


  • white working class
  • race
  • Deindustrialisation
  • Discrimination
  • British Politics
  • trade unions

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