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History after HobsbawmWriting the Past for the Twenty-First Century$
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John H. Arnold, Matthew Hilton, and Jan Rüger

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198768784

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198768784.001.0001

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The People’s History and the Politics of Everyday Life since 1945

The People’s History and the Politics of Everyday Life since 1945

(p.272) 15 The People’s History and the Politics of Everyday Life since 1945
History after Hobsbawm

Jon Lawrence

Oxford University Press

This chapter revisits interview transcripts from postwar social science projects to explore vernacular understandings of the social world, especially the informal politics of everyday life. Understanding shifting conceptions of historical time provides the key to understanding the crisis of social democracy in the 1970s and 1980s which was rooted less in the machinations of high politics than in popular responses to economic uncertainty and social change. What sealed the fate of the mobilizing myths of postwar social democracy was the collapse of popular belief in the idea of ‘the people’s’ forward march. By the 1980s expectations of intergenerational ‘progress’ had begun to loosen and conceptions of a shared future had broken down. But if popular conceptions of time and politics represent vernacular attempts to make sense of everyday experience, resetting the terms of economic life and public policy may re-establish shared conceptions of progress.

Keywords:   everyday experience, popular conception, progress, social change, social democracy

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