New Times Revisited? Examining Society, Culture and Politics in the Long 1980s

Asian Youth Movement protest outside West Bar Police Station, 1983 (Sheffield Newspapers Ltd.)

28th-29th June 2013
University of Birmingham & University of Warwick

Plenary speakers: James Vernon (UC Berkeley) and Stephen Brooke (York University)

New Times Revisited? is an upcoming conference aimed at postgraduate, early career researchers, and established researchers. It is geared towards creating a research agenda for those interested in studying a ‘long 1980s’. It is a joint initiative between the Birmingham Centre for Modern and Contemporary History and the University of Warwick’s Institute for Advanced Studies.

How should historians of Britain understand the long 1980s? This conference takes its name from the discussion of the meaning of New Times in the journal Marxism Today. ‘New times’ sought to characterise a period during which ideas of post-war consensus were critiqued, Keynesian economic frameworks were challenged, identity politics proliferated and class solidarities shifted. This conference aims to develop and question such a narrative by asking how a sense of ‘new times’ relates to longer term cultural and social change. We invite papers examining society, politics, and culture during the 1970s and 1980s from a local, British and global perspective.

We ask:

Can the decade be seen as an ‘age of fracture’? To what extent did Britain feel a ‘shock of the global’? How closely should we associate the era with the emergence and consolidation of a new hegemonic politics associated with Thatcherism? How was Thatcherism experienced in everyday life? Would Thatcherism have existed without Thatcher? What narratives best encapsulate everyday and ‘ordinary’ experience in the 1980s?


We also welcome discussion of the following themes:

  • The crisis of the Left and the emergence of a ‘new right’. Was this the ‘Great Moving Right Show’?
  • Britain’s position in relation to the rest of the world.
  • What were the key agents in driving political, economic, cultural and social change in the 1980s? How important were parties, social movements, supranational institutions, big business and ‘the city’ to the changes of the decade?
  • How were issues such as race and sexuality experienced in ‘ordinary’ settings?


Further information

Contact Daisy Payling at for further information,
or visit the conference website:

Photo credit: Asian Youth Movement protest outside West Bar Police Station, 1983 (Sheffield Newspapers Ltd.)