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Exploring cultural divisions and social change in Britain

This project questions the idea that Britain has become split between a metropolitan graduate elite and a wider more socially conservative public who object to having liberal policies imposed upon them. 

The landslide election victory of Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party in December 2019 is most frequently interpreted as due to his success in ‘getting Brexit done’ and thus appealing to a silent majority, including the northern working-class inhabitants of former ‘Red Wall’ areas, ‘who lean left on spending and public services but are culturally conservative’. From this perspective, Britain’s departure from the EU potentially enables a return, at least symbolically, to the postwar heyday of a ‘Great Britain’ characterized by political consensus, social deference, a common culture, full male employment, and a rigid gender binary; a context that is often equated with so-called traditional working-class values.

This project examines diaries and other autobiographical writings of a wide range of people to understand social processes such as class consciousness, gender identity, and even our understanding of Britain and Britishness. The project aims to show the extent to which current culture wars and crises can be seen as a continuing consequence of post-WW1 trends – such as universal suffrage and women’s emancipation – which are still shaping contemporary social and cultural divisions. In particular, the project examines how the emergence of new cultural values helps people to live through unprecedented social change.

The research will change how we think about culture wars and social change in Britain.

This Leverhulme Trust Fellowship project  ‘Self-reflexivity, Class Consciousness, Culture Wars and Social Change in Britain’ draws on Prof Hubble’s expertise in researching processes of social value formation in autobiographical narratives, including working-class and women’s writing.

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Professor Nick Hubble
Professor Nick Hubble - I am Professor of Modern and Contemporary English and Director of the Brunel Centre for Contemporary Writing (BCCW). Formerly, I have successfully filled many roles including Head of English and both Director of Research and Director of Teaching and Learning for Arts & Humanities at Brunel. I hold a BA in Philosophy and Literature (Essex), a PGCE in Secondary English (Sussex), an MA in Critical Theory (Sussex), a DPhil (on George Orwell and Mass-Observation) in English Literature (Sussex) and a PGCert in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (Brunel). I am an interdisciplinary researcher whose work combines the fields of Politics, History, Sociology, Cultural Studies and Literary Studies. My current reseach project is 'Self-reflexivity, Class Consciousness, Culture Wars, and Social Change in Britain' for which I have been awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship for 2023-24. I am the author of Mass Observation and Everyday Life: Culture, History, Theory (2006, second edition 2010) and The Proletarian Answer to the Modernist Question (2017). I am co-author (with Philip Tew) of Ageing, Narrative and Identity (2013). I am the co-editor (with Aris Mousoutzanis) of The Science Fiction Handbook (2013), (with Philip Tew) of London in Contemporary British Fiction (2016), (with Esther MacCallum-Stewart and Joseph Norman) of The Science Fiction of Iain M. Banks (2018), (with Ben Clarke) of Working-Class Writing: Theory and Practice (2018), and (with Jennie Taylor and Philip Tew) of Growing Old with the Welfare State (2019). I am one of the series editors (with Philip Tew and Leigh Wilson) of The Decades Series: British Fiction with Bloomsbury Academic, which covers 100 years of transformational change in the field of British fiction. I have co-edited seven of the ten volumes in this series: The 1970s (2014), The 1990s (2015), The 2000s (2015), The 1950s (2018), The 1930s (2021), The 2010s (forthcoming 2024), and The 1920s (forthcoming 2025).

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 09/06/2024