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'Better Decide Which Side You're On': Authenticity, politics and post-punk in Thatcherite Britain

O'Connell, Joseph ORCID: 2014. 'Better Decide Which Side You're On': Authenticity, politics and post-punk in Thatcherite Britain. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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During her time as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1979-1990) Margaret Thatcher oversaw a great deal of political and social change, some of which proved controversial to her left-wing opponents. Her ascent to power coincided with the establishment of punk, whose music influenced a sizeable proportion of the country’s cultural and social underground, leading to great influence on popular musical producers and the growth of a recognised subculture. Thatcher’s electoral success and the widespread identification with punk were both predicated upon the rhetoric of ‘crisis’ which permeated popular discourse in the mid- to late-1970s. As such, punk came to be viewed as a cultural form with which to not only oppose this rhetoric and mainstream society in general, but also with which to restate ideas of rock ‘authenticity’ as a means to protest political situations. With reference to specific performers and protest movements, this thesis demonstrates how these performers and popular movements stated their opposition to cultural and societal norms, as well as assessing the ‘political’ success of their actions. Consequently it also questions the historical narratives which have been written on this period – particularly that of the Rock Against Racism movement and its involvement of British Asians. It also uses contemporary source material to offer fresh analyses of Live Aid and the Labour Party-supporting Red Wedge group, as well as challenging the performances and presentation of musicians who made direct challenges to Thatcherite policy in their songwriting.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Funders: Cardiff University
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2022 08:38

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