Aspiration, Agency, and the Production of New Selves in a Scottish New Town, c.1947–c.2016


Abrams L, Hazley B, Wright V & Kearns A (2018) Aspiration, Agency, and the Production of New Selves in a Scottish New Town, c.1947–c.2016. Twentieth Century British History, 29 (4), pp. 576-604.

Narratives of deindustrialization, urban decline and failing public housing and the negative outcomes associated with these processes dominate accounts of post-war Scotland, bolstering the interpretation of Scottish exceptionalism in a British context. Within these accounts working people appear as victims of powerful and long-term external forces suffering sustained and ongoing deleterious vulnerabilities in terms of employment, health, and housing. This article challenges this picture by focusing on the first Scottish new town which made space for working people’s aspiration and new models of the self manifested in new lifestyles and social relations. Drawing on archival data and oral history interviews, we identify how elective relocation fostered and enabled new forms of identity predicated upon new housing, new social relations, and lifestyle opportunities focused on the family and home and elective social networks no longer determined by traditional class and gender expectations. These findings permit an intervention in the historical debates on post-war housing and social change which go beyond the materialistic experience to deeper and affective dimensions of the new town self.


Twentieth Century British History: Volume 29, Issue 4

FundersThe Leverhulme Trust
Publication date31/12/2018
Publication date online30/05/2018
Date accepted by journal30/05/2018
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)