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From revolution to revelation: A reconfiguring of youth culture in Thatcher's Britain

Brabazon, Tara (1995) From revolution to revelation: A reconfiguring of youth culture in Thatcher's Britain. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The aim of this thesis is clear: to understand why 'youth culture' was not a problem in Britain during the 1980s. In 1978, Stuart Hall and others at the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies published Policing the Crisis, which examined the reasons why a law and order crisis existed in Britain during the 1970s. This research continues their work beyond 1978, and questions the nature of this crisis. Instead of rioting, the youth of the 1980s changed the nature of resistance. In probing the relevance of 1960s and 1970s cultural theory for a different set of socio-economic conditions in the 1980s, methodological significances also emerge that explore how memory is constructed and whose memory is perpetuated.

This thesis is not an example of a 'neutral' history that successfully subsumes its ideological directive and the agenda of its historian. The 7 that writes the words' is neither lost nor denied. Claims for the authentic voice, however, remain aggressively interrogated. This history of Thatcher's Britain proclaims neither the resurrection of the author nor the moralizing historian. Experiential truths cannot reclaim the history of the youth culture that is not one. Other entries and exits have been situated.

The thesis is constructed in three parts, with each tier testing a new paradigm for the study of youth. In each of the six chapters of Section One, a major topic within contemporary cultural studies has been addressed: the configuration of Marxist thought, identity politics, feminism, the politics of consumption, the place of history and the potentials/problems of fictocriticism. Simultaneously, methodological questions are addressed, that produce spaces for a new cultural history and a (post)youth culture.

While the first section questions how youth are theorized, the second component examines the relationship between youth and cultural geography, or the spatialization of youth. Section Two examined the way in which youth, as social subjects, are manoeuvred through the landscapes of 'the nation' and 'the self. This section works through the space and place of youth.

Section Three merges the results of the research conducted in the previous two parts, by utilizing a variety topics: from The Face to the disco(urse) body, the AIDS crisis, The Pet Shop Boys and the textualization of Thatcher. The accessed material is of this scope as it is the only mechanism through which to piece together a popular memory, rather than maintaining the illusory ideology of reclaiming the past as it actually existed.
The original contribution made in this thesis is to enact a reconfiguration of understandings of youth culture in the post-Thatcherite era. There is also a clear metaagenda, involving a melding of history and cultural studies. As hinted in my thesis title (A reconfiguring of youth culture in Thatcher's Britain), debates within this research are derived from both cultural studies and history. The resultant thesis offers a reengagement of text, place and time.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Humanities
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Hartley, John
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