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The politics of British concepts of heroic gallantry, 1955-1979

Lord, Matthew James (2018) The politics of British concepts of heroic gallantry, 1955-1979. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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The ‘Sixties’ value shift in Britain – often referred to as the ‘cultural revolution’ – has long been shrouded in generalisation, stereotype and misunderstanding. Countless studies have considered many aspects of this timeframe, often concluding in support of either its revolutionary progressiveness or conservative stasis. This thesis aims primarily to shed new light on the nature, extent and timing of cultural and political transition through focusing on a concept overwhelmingly rooted in conservative, military and state-orientated culture: the concept of heroic ‘gallantry’. It does so by concentrating on the interaction between the Sixties value shift and government policies relating to British gallantry awards. The thesis concludes that, in an area in which moral and political ‘conservatives’ – namely Tory ministers and MPs, civil servants, military servicemen and ex-servicemen’s associations, combined with right-wing journalists and their readership – held a dominant emotional stake, it was they who pioneered ‘progressive’ reform to gallantry awards policy in order to maintain the relevancy and acceptability of these decorations in evolving British politics and culture. The transformation of concepts of gallantry, therefore, provides evidence of how ‘conservatives’ engaged proactively and constructively with the broader liberal Sixties transition, whilst preserving the conservative essence of gallantry throughout this transition. Through investigating this interaction, the thesis also considers what the Sixties reveal about interconnected themes such as ‘militarism’ and ‘militarisation’ in Britain; the material culture of medals; the socio-political agenda of the Honours System and the place of the ‘hero’ within British politics and society. This study therefore provides a fresh perspective, through an often militarised and conservative lens, on an important milestone transition in postwar British history.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: British, hero, medal, gallantry, military, postwar, decolonisation, counterinsurgency, militarism, phaleristics
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of History (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Matthew J Lord
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2018 12:59
Last Modified: 13 Aug 2018 12:59
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21200

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