Everyday Politics, Ordinary Lives: Democratic Engagement in Britain, 1918-1992

Crick Centre Associate Fellow Adrian Bingham, Professor of Modern History at the University of Sheffield, is undertaking a major study of popular political engagement in twentieth-century Britain which will provide new directions for British political history

The project, which will run from September 2017 to August 2018, investigates how British citizens understood politics and how they viewed its relationship to their lives, from 1918 to 1992. It focuses on the everyday political opinions, discussions and interactions of ordinary British people in the period from the establishment of a near democracy with the Representation of the People Act 1918 (which gave the vote to all adult men and most women over 30) up until the transformation of British political culture with the emergence of 24-hour news channels and the internet in the early 1990s.

What sorts of issues were regarded as being ‘political’? Did they seem important? How and when were they discussed? What sort of expectations did people have of politicians and the political system? The project is rooted in the belief that there is often a gulf between elite and popular understandings of politics, and that politicians, the media and scholars have frequently applied definitions and labels that do not necessarily map onto the views and experiences of ordinary British citizens (and especially women and young people).

The project will draw on evidence from social surveys, life writing, opinion polls, and popular culture to identify and analyse the changing place of politics in everyday life, and the deeper attitudes and assumptions that informed political responses.