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Masculinities, planning knowledge and domestic space in Britain, c. 1941-1961

Guyan, Kevin; (2016) Masculinities, planning knowledge and domestic space in Britain, c. 1941-1961. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis examines the significance of masculinities in debates about planning the home in mid-twentieth century Britain, the dissemination of domestic ideals in planning publications and at housing exhibitions, and men’s experiences of these ideals in reality. Emboldened by a historically specific set of challenges that followed the 1941 Blitz and demobilisation after the Second World War, planning experienced a ‘golden age’ in the 1940s. As the borders of expert knowledge expanded, and quotidian practices became a topic of national significance, planners promoted men’s presence within the home as part of Britain’s postwar reconstruction. The first chapter analyses planning publications and films to reveal the proliferation of technocratic, rational and omniscient planning identities and their effect on how experts studied and conceptualised the home. Focus then moves to explore the methods used to disseminate ideal representations of the home and men’s domestic actions at major exhibitions such as Britain Can Make It (1946), the Festival of Britain (1951) and the model Lansbury Estate in East London. The final chapter uses oral histories and observational studies to discern how men used their homes to perform masculine identities and assesses whether these lived experiences aligned with planners’ domestic ideals. Historians have overlooked the relationship between the men who planned homes and the men who lived in them, and thus failed to properly attribute agency to all actors in the planning process. This study therefore addresses the complex relationship between planners (architects), observers (social investigators) and inhabitants to reveal the effects of class on the efficacy of planning ideas. Regardless of whether men accepted, subverted or rejected planners’ domestic ideals, this study brings into focus the pervasive influence of normative masculinities and illustrates connections between men’s access to well-planned homes and their ability to perform family-orientated practices.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Masculinities, planning knowledge and domestic space in Britain, c. 1941-1961
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: masculinities, domestic space, planning, gender, housing, architecture, exhibitions
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1516998
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