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Sunday, 3 April 2011

Frank Mort, Capital Affairs: The Making of the Permissive Society (2010)

This was an excellent book, and I found it a compelling read (I came across a couple of reviews in the mainstream press which accused it of having swathes of academic theoretical jargon and either they have a very low tolerance for the slightest degree of theoretical analysis and just wanted more scandal and sensationalism, or I have become desensitised over the course of the years). It does some extremely useful things, not least of which is to draw attention to the continuing significance of class alongside sex and race in the issues under discussion.

It also drew attention to reconstructions of masculinity - and the continuation of certain forms of elite homosociability - in the period under discussion, which both hearked back, at least stylistically, to earlier periods, and incorporated elements of modernity. This productive intersection between the modern and tradition also feature strongly in the discussion of continuities and changes in the specific urban spaces of Soho.

Obviously there is a lot more that could be written about the 50s/early 60s, that period of apparent deadly conformity and tremblors of instability every so often shaking the complacent surface, but this is a solid and focused study that by its concentration shines spotlights into hitherto underexplored areas.

Still thinking through many of the points it raises.

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