The uses of nostalgia: Autobiography, community publishing and working class neighbourhoods in post-war England

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Abstract

Recent characterizations of post-war working class autobiography as predominantly nostalgic require revision. Brighton's QueenSpark publications demonstrate a greater diversity in tone, style and form than has previously been recognized. I argue that while council housing and slum clearance transformed working class communities between the 1920s and the 1960s, the social and political contexts in which these experiences were later remembered also deserve consideration. The 1970s and 1980s saw a decline in skilled manual work, a rise in non-manual employment, the gentrification of older working class neighbourhoods, and the residualization of certain inter-war estates. Attention needs to be paid to the local character of such changes and to the socio-spatial trajectories of individual writers. Such narratives may fruitfully be understood as part of a radical attempt to recover working class experience, contesting dominant representations of working class people and places.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-374
Number of pages20
JournalCultural and Social History
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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