New Approaches to Social History. Myth, Memory and Place: Monmouth and Bath 1750-1900

Peter Borsay

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7 Citations (SciVal)


In the post-war decades in Britain, social history, in what may be called its heroic age, was new and fashionable, and could expect to attract devotees by virtue of these qualities alone. From the later twentieth century, the baton for novelty passed to other sub-disciplines such as cultural and gender history. But the change was not simply one of fashion. It represented a major shift in approach from a “hard” to a “soft” social history. Much of the social history of the heroic age was empirical in character, and almost all was built around a notion of social structure, particularly class structure, drawn from Marxist theory. During the 1970s and 1980s, the certainties which underpinned this approach began to dissolve, and in particular the appeal of a class-based analysis of society declined. Growing emphasis was placed on the mental and imaginative sphere in society, on imagery and representation, and on qualitative modes of investigation. What was once hard and definite became soft and malleable, capable of multiple configurations and meanings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)867-889
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Social History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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