Time, affluence and private leisure: the British working class in the 1950s and 1960s

Rule, John
June 2001
Labour History Review (Maney Publishing);Summer2001, Vol. 66 Issue 2, p223
Academic Journal
The article focuses on the British working class in the 1950s and 1960s. The post-war economic boom, even if muted in Great Britain, brought a new level of prosperity and security to an increasingly large sector of the urban and industrial working class. Full employment in short brought a sense of empowerment to sectors of the working class which is misleadingly represented as embourgeoisement. As the era of full employment continued, overtime became institutionalised in the prospering manufacturing centres and was playing an important part in the quality of working-class lives. Overtime working in Great Britain in the 1950s and 1960s has been little studied, yet it was worked to an extent only otherwise found in France. The distribution of overtime not only varied between industries, but often did so in accordance with the circumstances of workers. Journalists pointing to the emergence of a "new working class" and eager to rename it as an American "blue-collar middle-class", did, however, note the time-cost of the growing affluence.


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