The social and cultural impact of the car in interwar Britain
O'Connell, Sean (1995) The social and cultural impact of the car in interwar Britain. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b1359897~S1
This study argues that society's choices between possible technological developments
are highly reflective of patterns of political, social, and economic power. Employing
insights from recent historical and sociological work on class, gender, consumption
and technology the processes by which social relations shaped the design, marketing
and uses of the car are explained. In turn, it is argued that the legal and physical
infrastructure which developed in the car's wake were extremely expressive of class
and gender relations.
The interwar years are studied because it was during this period, when the car
as a technology was still open to contestation, that the British car culture was defined.
This was so because it was during the 1920s and 1930s that car ownership became
a reality for millions of middle-class Britons. An analysis of the symbolic, as well
as the utilitarian, benefits of ownership is offered and reveals the car's role in the
expression of social and gender identity. The extent to which these factors impinged
upon the actions of car manufacturers and motor dealers is also related. This
perspective and the use of oral evidence has unearthed significant new evidence about
the composition of the motoring community.
The process through which influential sections of opinion reached a
concordance with the car is explained. As it became increasingly useful for them, the
professional and commercial middle-classes swung against significant restrictions on
car use. Pre-1914 they were often outraged by the danger and inconvenience that
were inevitable side effects of rising car ownership. However, once owners
themselves they were increasingly attracted to new ideas about road safety which
placed more and more emphasis on the education and segregation of other road users.
The influential pro-motoring lobby manipulated these developments, a factor which
is investigated here for the first time.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
T Technology > TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Automobiles -- History -- 20th century, Automobiles -- Social aspects -- Great Britain, Great Britain -- Social life and customs -- 1918-1945|
|Official Date:||November 1995|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of Social History|
|Extent:||xxviii, 261 leaves|
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