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"Modernity Britain: A Shake of the Dice, 1959-62 by David Kynaston review – humorous, compassionate and shrewd"

" 'Don't forget the fruit gums, Mum!' – how we became a nation of consumers.

"Kynaston outlines how the late 1950s and early 1960s laid the foundations of modern materialism"

Link to The Guardian

"The author is now halfway through his sequence, which is scheduled to close with Margaret Thatcher's arrival in Downing Street in 1979. The emphasis on private virtues, on community loyalties, on apologetic decency is already receding. By the early 1960s many traditional notions of self-respect and self-restraint are beginning to be laughed at. Acquisitiveness, the proliferation of gimcrack modernity, the abuse of trade-union power, the decline of neighbourly responsibility all obtrude on Kynaston's narrative.

"While he recognises that improving prosperity alleviated hardships, and that consumerism brought worthwhile amenities to many households, he seems to feel saddened by a nation of unsuccessful materialists, behaving in unseemly ways, to buy objects that they do not really need and cannot reasonably afford.

"A Shake of the Dice
spotlights new trends among male factory workers that contributed to Labour's defeat in the general election of 1959. Researchers and pollsters reported rising material expectations, sharper acquisitive instincts and increased presumptions of personal economic security. Experiences of wartime dangers and National Service disruptions had intensified men's appreciation of marriage, domesticity, stability and home comforts. One working-class man is quoted as saying that mates at work 'are not pals'. The basis of working-class solidarity was shifting."

Link to web site

Financial Times:
"An epic social history moves into the age of municipal modernism"

" 'You can hear people eating celery next door,' claimed the married respondents to a University of Liverpool survey on conditions in some of the city’s new estates. Their neighbour, a machinist’s wife with two daughters, wished the corporation would 'put the roughs in the flats and the respectable ones in houses to look after the gardens.' Houses with gardens were what everyone wanted, yet flats, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, were what they got.

"Between 1959 and 1962 – the period documented in the second half of Modernity Britain, the third volume in David Kynaston’s so-far triumphant social history series – 60,000 houses a year were demolished or boarded up after being designated slums. This rate was far behind the targets set in the mid-1950s to rebuild and rehouse the millions of city dwellers living in poor-quality housing. These included families living in cellars, in terraces that shared a single running water pipe, and in houses with ancient, dangerous wiring.

"In terms of the civic and public realm there was, Kynaston argues, at least a partial popular appetite for such changes. The rise of self-service supermarkets is shown, through vox pops and diary entries, to have been not so much a sign of rampant, top-down modernity but a genuinely popular development among housewives and mothers who appreciated the choice, autonomy and freedom from judgment that wandering the aisles with a basket gave them."

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