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About this book

This book traces the history of youth culture from its origins among the student communities of inter-war Britain to the more familiar world of youth communities and pop culture. Grounded in extensive original research, it explores the individuals, institutions and ideas that have shaped youth culture over much of the twentieth century.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Abstract
It was an American sociologist Talcott Parsons who coined the phrase ‘youth culture’ in 1942; but, appearing in a learned journal in the United States, and at a time when the youth of Europe were being conscripted into military units and taking part in a monumental European and global war, the term does not seem to have reached Britain for over twenty years. In this country it was first taken up by sociologists; most notably, Bryan Wilson, a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, who pioneered discussion of British youth culture in a series of newspaper articles that appeared in the mid-1960s.1 What Wilson meant by the term was the autonomous behaviour of the young and his definition was so broad (and imprecise) that it included various categories of working-class youth (Mods and Rockers, and teenagers, for example), as well as middle-class students. It is tempting to say his use of the term was so elastic because it enabled him to include whichever groups of youth he wanted to write about that week.
David Fowler

1. Edwardian Cults of Youth, c.1900–1914

Abstract
For a youth culture to exist in any society there needs to be a dynamic. Susan Brigden has suggested that there was a distinct youth culture in early modern England, in the form of young trade apprentices reacting against the Catholic Church.1 Another imaginative approach to the subject sees the apprentices of seventeenth-century London — in service from their early teens until their mid-twenties — as a distinct group with their own rituals, literature, and values.2 And, given that half the population in early modern England were under 20, these arguments are not farfetched.3 Moreover, youth communities existed elsewhere in the seventeenth century — at Harvard College, for example, where a Dutchman visiting in July 1680 encountered a room full of young male students puffing tobacco and speaking Latin.4 The historian who wants to identify youth cultures thus has at least four centuries to choose from and some innovative scholarship to draw on.
David Fowler

2. Rolf Gardiner, Cambridge and the Birth of Youth Culture between the Two World Wars

Abstract
Rolf Gardiner is a neglected figure in the history of British Youth Culture. This chapter will argue that he was one of the prime movers in the development of Youth Culture in British universities between the Two World Wars. Drawing on his rich personal papers, published essays and on contemporary perceptions of Rolf Gardiner, the chapter will chart Rolf Gardiner’s extraordinary influence as a shaper of ideas about youth culture and youth activity in the era of cinema, the Jazz Age and the rise of Nazism on the European Continent.1
David Fowler

3. The Flapper Cult in Interwar Britain: Media Invention or the Spark that Ignited Girl Power?

Abstract
In Hollywood films of the 1920s, and in the short stories and novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the flapper is a cigarette-smoking, dance-mad young female in her teens to early twenties. Her hair is ‘bobbed’ or ‘shingled’ and neatly tucked under a cloche hat; a sort of helmet that clasped the head like a bathing hat. She wears knee-length skirts and make-up. She is the most iconic figure of the American ‘Roaring’ Twenties; and the symbol of teenage emancipation.1 The classic Hollywood flappers were Clara Bow, Colleen Moore and Louise Brooks; all very young actresses in their late teens to early twenties at their peak, who made era-defining films such as It (Clara Bow, 1927), Flaming Youth (Colleen Moore, 1923) and Pandora’s Box (Louise Brooks, 1927).2 The movie flapper outlasted these iconic silent film actresses and survived into the new era of Hollywood musicals. In 1929, for example, a Super Cinema in Manchester screened the film ‘Movietone Follies of 1929’. It was advertised as a Hollywood musical about ‘Youth with a capital Y’ and featured a ‘Jazz-mad Flapper’ (played by Sue Carroll). It drew huge audiences and was screened at Manchester Hippodrome, a large city-centre cinema, for an unprecedented three-week period.3
David Fowler

4. Youth Culture in Early Twentieth-Century Ireland

Abstract
Bernadette Devlin, reflecting on the student unrest at the London School of Economics during 1968, expressed horror at what she saw on her television set. ‘We looked upon them (the students in Paris and London) … as a bunch of weirdos — we didn’t know what the hell was annoying them, she told an interviewer in 1988.’1 She was a university student herself in the late 1960s, studying Psychology at The Queen’s University of Belfast. She implied, in her reflections on the period, that student and youth empowerment were an anathema in Northern Irish society during the 1960s. The Oxford historian R. F. Foster agrees. In his sparkling survey Modern Ireland, 1688–1988 (1988), he dismisses the concept of youth culture as inapplicable to Northern Ireland in a single sentence, remarking that youth in the Province ‘have always followed their elders’.2 Is this correct? Has Northern Ireland for much of the twentieth century been insulated from the likes of the Teddy Boy, the teenage consumers of 1930s’ and 1950s’ Britain, the youth pop groups of the 1950s and’60s and the student youth movements of the 1960s in Britain, the United States, France, Germany and elsewhere in Europe?
David Fowler

5. Juvenile Delinquency in Northern Ireland, 1945–c.1970

Abstract
One of the most distinctive features of Northern Irish society since the Second World War is its unique culture of juvenile and youth delinquency. But whilst a significant historical literature exists on juvenile delinquency in Britain over the period from 1920 to 1970, the subject is largely shrouded in mystery for Northern Ireland.1 The following chapter represents research findings extracted from the rich archival records on juvenile and youth delinquency available in Northern Ireland; sources that have largely languished in the outhouses of the Public Record Office for Northern Ireland (PRONI) until now. Northern Ireland has produced at least two youth stereotypes over this period that make it such a fascinating case-study of youth culture within the United Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland created in 1922. The most notorious is the ‘teenage bomber’ who came to prominence (in the newspapers at any rate) during the 1970s; but had antecedents in earlier periods.2 The second is the young Republican protesters who came to the attention of the police and military authorities in Northern Ireland during the Second World War: a small subculture of boys, all in their late teens and early twenties, who organised themselves into paramilitary units — a young republican alternative to the Boy Scouts and Boys’ Brigade in a sense — and whose members were charged in the courts (and found guilty) of drilling with guns on the open spaces of Belfast; shooting at police officers and harbouring weapons in their homes.
David Fowler

6. From the Juke Box Boys to Revolting Students: Richard Hoggart and the Study of British Youth Culture

Abstract
Richard Hoggart’s academic career during the 1950s and 1960s coincided with the emergence of distinctive national and international youth cultures in Britain and across the world. Hoggart, first as a provincial Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) tutor in the Fifties, and then as a Professor at the University of Birmingham during the 1960s, had first hand knowledge of some of the most significant youth movements and cultures to emerge in the postwar period; from the Teddy Boys of the early 1950s to the global student revolts of the late 1960s. Moreover, his work is infused with references to youth culture. These range chronologically from his vivid description of ‘juke box boys’ lounging in the milk bars of Northern England, and described in The Uses of Literacy (1957) — ‘boys aged between fifteen and twenty, with drape suits, picture ties and an American slouch’ — to the early identification of the teenage consumer in the Albemarle Report of 1960, which he co-wrote with Leslie Paul, and on into the late 1960s and beyond. He wrote about provincial youth culture in the ‘Swinging’ Sixties; about the student protest movements of the late 1960s and even, briefly, about Oxbridge youth under Thatcherism. It is surprising, therefore, that no cultural historian has yet appraised what Richard Hoggart has written about British Youth Culture — except Robert Colls, briefly, in his recent book Identity of England (2002); who pointed out that Hoggart’s censorious views about youth culture are the one section of The Uses of Literacy in which he lost his grip on his subject.1
David Fowler

7. The Mod Culture in Swinging Britain, 1964–7

Abstract
Few historians of Modern Britain have probed the significance and impact of the Mod culture, either in London or nationally, during the Swinging Sixties.1 Arthur Marwick’s colossal book on the 1960s, for example, devotes less than a paragraph to the Mod movement.2 Like all the historians and sociologists who have written about the Mods, Marwick sees the movement as a product of affluence and, in its initial phase, a product of classless ‘Swinging London’.3 The Mod culture is only depicted through anecdotes, but those who recall the heady days of the ‘High Sixties’ Mod culture reminisce proudly about their obsession with clothes and their hedonistic lifestyle. As one apprentice printer of the time, cited in Marwick, recalled:
Monday was Tottenham Royal, Tuesday the Lyceum, Wednesday the Scene, or maybe stay in and wash your hair, Thursday Tottenham Royal again (because it was our little hangout), then Friday night was ‘Ready Steady Go’ … Then after ‘Ready Steady Go’ you’d go to the Scene later, Saturday and Sunday was either a party or the Tottenham Royal, then the next week you’d start again.4
David Fowler

8. From Danny the Red to British Student Power: Labour Governments and the International Student Revolts of the 1960s

Abstract
During the 1960s the Labour Party were led by one of the most academically brilliant students of his generation — Harold Wilson. ‘J. H. Wilson’, as he was then known, graduated from Oxford University in 1937 with a First Class Degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) and gained First Class marks on all of his Finals’ examination papers. Wilson was not a student radical, in his years as an undergraduate at Jesus College, Oxford (he was regarded by his contemporaries as a swot); but he did read the work of ‘radical’ economists such as J. M. Keynes, and his Economics tutor was astounded to discover that, just before sitting his Finals, he read the whole of Keynes’ revolutionary new work The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936) and absorbed it.1 During his two Labour governments of 1964–70 Harold Wilson was responsible for a period of enormous university expansion. Eight new universities were created during these years — Sussex, Kent, Warwick, Lancaster, East Anglia, Essex, York and Stirling — and 29 Polytechnics. In fact, the student population increased at a faster rate under Wilson than under any previous Prime Minister.2 Moreover, these students were eligible for state maintenance grants as of right and these grants enabled students from working-class backgrounds to go to university.
David Fowler

9. Youth Culture and Pop Culture: from Beatlemania to the Spice Girls

Abstract
It is undeniable that during the 1960s British pop music emerged as a global phenomenon with domestic groups, led by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, enjoying unprecedented commercial success; primarily in the United States but also in Europe and even in Eastern Europe.1 It was not until the mid-1990s that any British pop group achieved comparable world record sales; and it came in the unlikely guise of five females, all in their early twenties, who had not known each other at all before an astute record producer, Simon Fuller, had the bright idea of creating a ‘girl’ pop group to counter all the assorted ‘boy bands’ that were dominating the British pop charts at the time. He called them ‘The Spice Girls’ and in the period between 1996 and 1998 they sold more records worldwide than any British pop group since the Beatles.2
David Fowler

Conclusions

Abstract
The chronological focus, and content, of this study point towards a fundamental revision of what historians ought to study when writing about youth culture. In the 1960s it became fashionable for middle-aged politicians like the late William Deedes, then a Conservative Cabinet Minister, and for middle-class ‘with it’ journalists and academics — from George Melly to the conservative sociologist Bryan Wilson — to write about the ‘new’ youth culture that they observed in Britain and linked with the ‘rise’ of the teenager; the emerging pop world of ‘Swinging London’; and the student revolutionaries creating havoc in British, European and American universities. But these authorities on the ‘new’ youth culture were not historians and they have misled both historians and sociologists into thinking that youth culture is a product of the 1950s and 1960s.1
David Fowler
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