Shaking the Foundations: British Politics, Culture and Society 1979 to 1997

170 TUTOR: Peter Street

A controversial era as the Conservative governments sought to re-shape prevailing political, economic and social policies/attitudes. The course includes their more market-oriented approaches and privatisation, 'Big Bang', industrial disputes (notably the miners' strike 1984/85) and intermittent civil unrest. Policies/responses concerning Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and overseas developments (particularly the Falklands War) alongside divisions regarding 'Europe' similarly feature. Developments in science, anxiety over the environment and nuclear weapons, gender issues, multiculturalism and belief together with the literary, visual ('Britart') feature as do the performing arts, leisure and popular culture including fashion, holidays, cinema, sport and television. Memorabilia welcome.

3 AM
AM course

Course Notes

Day One

Setting the scene and overview of the period; political outline, 1979-1997

'Tell Sid' 'There Is No Alternative': re-shaping the British economy, 1979-1997

Day Two

'The Enemy Within': the Government, Trade Unions and opposition to fiscal, economic and industrial change

'The Enemy Without': Britain and 'Europe' 1979-1997; the Falklands War


Day Three

(Dis) United Kingdom - the Four Nations, 1979-1997; end of Empire

Life in late 20thcentury Britain (1)


Day Four

Life in late 20th century Britain (2)

'Protest and survive': Greenham Common and nuclear weapons; civil unrest; environmental concerns

Day Five

Education, the Arts and popular culture


It is not necessary to be familiar with the subject but should you wish to read ahead/afterwards, you might find (the relevant chapters/sections of) one or more of the following helpful:

J Black Britain since the seventies: politics and society in the consumer age

CG Brown Britain since 1707

P Clarke Hope and glory: Britain 1900-1990/2000 [depending on edition]

T Lloyd Empire, welfare state and Europe: 1906-1992/2001 [depending on edition]

A Marwick British society since 1945 (2003 edition)

D Sandbrook Who dares wins: Britain 1979-1982

More focussed sources as appropriate will be suggested during the week.


Course Tutor

Peter Street

About Peter

Peter has contributed to the Marlborough College Summer School since 1992. He is an Oxford University graduate in Modern History, a qualified teacher and has taught history in higher and adult education for over forty years. Most of Peter's teaching was for Birkbeck College (University of London) and the Open University. Peter has also  lectured for NADFAS, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Trust, the Historical Association and history societies generally.

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All courses run for 5 days

WK 1 8 Jul - 12 Jul

WK 2 15 Jul - 19 Jul

WK 3 22 Jul - 26 Jul

WK 4 29 Jul - 2 Aug

Morning Courses

9.15AM to 12.15PM

Afternoon Courses

1.45PM to 4.30PM

All Day Courses

9.15AM to 4.30PM