Come on Down? Popular Media Culture in Post-War Britain

By Dominic Strinati; Stephen Wagg | Go to book overview

Chapter 1

Homeward bound

Leisure, popular culture and consumer capitalism

Deborah Philips and Alan Tomlinson


LEISURE, POPULAR CULTURE AND EVERYDAY LIFE

Just a few years after the global defeat of fascism many aspects of popular culture in Britain continued to exhibit major features of pre-war British life. Everyday life in Britain remained class bound and gender specific, despite many dramatic changes set in motion during the war years, and prominent leisure activities of a collective and publicly experienced nature prospered. In the immediate post-war years many aspects of popular culture exuded a sense of stability and traditionalism; people engaged in established leisure activities and rituals in everyday life—the holiday outing, the night out at the dance hall—in ways that would have been instantly recognizable to their pre-war equivalents. Indeed, in the first years after the end of the war some established leisure activities achieved an all-time peak in their level of popularity.

In 1946, 1,635 million cinema admissions were recorded, a figure dwindling to 111 million by the end of the 1970s, on the eve of the home-video boom (Corrigan 1983:30). Attendances rose again during the late 1980s, ‘from fewer than one visit on average per adult in 1984, to 1.5 in 1989, when there were 88 million cinema visits in Britain’ (Hughes 1991:9). New multiplex cinemas, and a flexibility of usage of domestic television, encouraged such a growth. Attendances at top class professional soccer matches in the Football League had also peaked in the immediate post-war period: in the season 1946-7, the first after the war, attendances totalled 35.6 million. Two seasons later the attendance for the 1948-9 season was 41.2 million, a figure never reached again during the subsequent four

-9-

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