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The less acceptable face of capitalism: a study of British documentary during the rise of Thatcherism

King, Stephanie; (2020) The less acceptable face of capitalism: a study of British documentary during the rise of Thatcherism. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis is a study of the oppositional documentary practices produced by the Left in Britain during the rise of the New Right (c1968-1997). By situating the issue of class at the centre of my study, I seek to challenge poststructuralist histories of this moment which, I suggest, inadvertently hastened the triumph of Thatcherism by foreclosing the production of, or the devotion of critical attention to, representations of class. One project forms the kernel of this inquiry. It is Exit Photography Group’s photobook Survival Programmes: In Britain’s Inner Cities (Milton Keynes: The Open University Press, 1982): a study in words and images of the those whom Exit designate ‘the less acceptable face of capitalism’. This thesis is a careful and sustained analysis of Survival Programmes and a select series of interrelated documentary projects, both photographic and filmic, with which I place the photobook in conversation. Through the prism of Exit’s project, I explore representations of class and how those representations intersect with questions of race and gender, as well as with concerns about the changing usages of, and connotations attached to, public and private space. My approach is informed by the contemporaneous writings of the cultural studies and media theorist Stuart Hall. His work provides a lens through which I interrogate how oppositional image makers have mobilised the camera as a prism through which to scrutinise Thatcherism, as well as the mass media institutions through which that ideology has been creatively mediated and mobilised. I ask if we can write social histories of documentary after 1979 without reverting to the duality between the naive celebration of so-called “community photography” on the one hand and, on the other, deterministic accounts of the inevitable critical and political failure of the documentary modality.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The less acceptable face of capitalism: a study of British documentary during the rise of Thatcherism
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: Documentary, Britain, Photography, Thatcher, Thatcherism, New Right, Class, Race, Representation, Photobook, Exit Photography Group, Survival Programmes in Britain's Inner Cities
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History of Art
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10093579
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