Politics of the Past: by Dr David Cowan (Fellow)

Politics of the Past book cover

The inter-war period (1918–1939) is still remembered as a period of mass deprivation – the ‘hungry thirties’. But how did this impression emerge? Thousands of conversations about life in the inter-war period – between parents and children around the dinner table; among workmates at the pub – shaped these understandings. In turn, these fed into popular politics. Stories about the embryonic welfare system in the early-twentieth century informed how people felt towards the National Health Service; memories of the Great Depression shaped arguments about state intervention in the economy. Challenging accounts of widespread political disengagement in the twentieth century, Politics of the Past shows how re-telling family stories about the inter-war period offered ordinary people an accessible way of engaging in politics. Drawing on six local case studies across Scotland and England, this book explains how stories about the inter-war working-class experience in industrial areas came to appear commonplace nationwide.