The swinging sixties: a social and cultural revolution?

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Dr Carmen M. Mangion

This module will unravel traditional, competing and contradictory discourses through an examination of the key social, cultural and political developments in Britain during one of the tumultuous decades of the twentieth century. The social movements, themes and events listed below will act as case studies and will be framed within the long 1960s (1950s to 1970s) in order to better understand both continuities and change. Importantly, these movements crossed national boundaries and cannot be seen in isolation, so we will also examine transnational influences, particularly with respect to continental Europe and the United States. Throughout, we will be questioning whether the events of the long 1960s can be considered part of a social and cultural revolution (keeping in mind the changing material context of the post war period). What was the lasting impact of ‘the sixties’? Our tools for exploring the long 1960s will be the rich secondary literature as well as a wide variety of primary sources including but by no means limited to: newspapers, television and radio broadcasts, film, photographs, music and oral history. Teaching takes the form of short lectures, student presentations, group work and class discussions of primary sources. Student presentations will feature from Week 2. Each week, two students will lead the discussion by exploring the seminar theme within a different national context.


The long 1960s?

Youth Culture

Permissive Society

‘Race’ and post-colonialism


Women’s Movement



Swinging London/San Francisco

A social and cultural revolution?

Donnelly, Mark, Sixties Britain: Culture, Society and Politics (Routledge, 2014)

• Gitlin, Todd, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (Bantam, 1993)

• Green, Jonathon, All Dressed Up: The Sixties and the Counterculture (Vintage, 1998)

Hobsbawm, Eric, The Age of Extremes (1995)

• Marwick, Arthur, The Sixties: Cultural Revolution in Britain, France, Italy, and the United States, c. 1958-c.1974 (1998)

• Sandbrook, Dominic, White Heat: A History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties 1964-1970 (2009)

• Wolin, Richard, The Wind from the East: French Intellectuals, the Cultural Revolution, and the Legacy of the 1960s (2010)

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