Anarchy in the UK? Media, popular culture and society in the 1970s

kat kd
Mind Map by , created over 5 years ago

A Levels History Britain Mind Map on Anarchy in the UK? Media, popular culture and society in the 1970s, created by kat kd on 04/25/2014.

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kat kd
Created by kat kd over 5 years ago
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Anarchy in the UK? Media, popular culture and society in the 1970s
1 How far did mass media and popular culture reflect or exacerbate the social and economic tensions in the 1970s?
1.1 Radio and popular music
1.1.1 Radio and popular music: 1973 Independent Broadcasting Authority Act mean BBC had to compete with a range of UK-based commercial stations. BBC invested more money in its local radio stations and began broadcasting on am and fm. Radio 1 was forced to cut its broadcast time and to share airtime with Radio 2 despite that Radio 3 was allowed to keep its large budget for live concerts and lectures. Showing Board of Governors' persistent bias against popular music. Audiences for Radio 1 rose in 1970s, with DJ Tony Blackburn's Breakfast Show (attracting 20 million listeners). Popular music in 1970s seen as either escapist or reflective. Early 1970s 'glam rock' rose to fame with artists such as Slade and Gary Glitter. Mid-70s rise of New York-Inspired disco with performers such as David Bowie. High point of disco when Saturday Night Fever (1977) was released. Rivaled by rise of home-made, anarchistic style of punk. Leading punk band, the Sex Pistols made hits such as 'Anarchy in the UK' (year of silver jubilee) and 'God Save the Queen'. Rose to fame through press attention e.g. swore at interview with Bill Grundy on Thames Television's, Today Show on 1 December 1976. Apart from the raw anger of the music, the Sex Pistols also made famous the ripped and safety-pinned clothes of designer Vivienne Westwood. In November 1974, Westwood opened a boutique in London called Sex, sold clothes to fashionable young Londers (like Mary Quant in 60s). Appearances in press and on TV increased spread of the fashion trend to other parts of UK in 80s. Punk remained limited to minority of young people, but has had large impact on subsequent mainstream music and fashions Punk also further promoted female independence and confidence. The Slits was among the first all-female bands to write and perform their own music, while bands like X-Ray Spex and The Banshees were fronted by formidable female singers like Poly Styrene and Siouxsie Sioux. Adam Ant observed that 'punk was the first youth movement in which women played as big part as men. For the first time bands had female members who were not there solely as sex objects'.
1.2 Television
1.2.1 Only three TV channels; BBC1, BB2 and the ITV franchises. 95% of British households had a TV. 1977 to 1979 people watched 16 hours of TV per week in summer and 20 hours in summer. Impact of TV enhanced by spread of broadcasts and reception in colour; BBC2 began colour broadcasts in 1967, BBC1 in November 1969. Colour TV sets increased from (1970) 1.7% to 70% (1979). Authorities worried about the impact of gory colour reports on troubles in Northern Ireland or Vietnam War, but did not stop rise of colour TV as the norm. 1971-75 government taxed ITV's profits between £15 million and £27 million per franchise rather than its advertising revenue. ITV produce quality shows, The World at War (1973-74) and current affairs programmes, This Week and World In Action.
1.2.2 BBC struggled with costs; licence fee was kept at fixed rate at time of high inflation and increased costs due to colour transmission. Charles Curran, Director General 1969-77 had to make BBC1 more competitive to justify licence fee. Responsible for golden age of sit-com, classic series such as Till Death Do Us Part, Fawlty Towers, Porridge and The Good Life all made by BBC. Weekly audiences as high as 20 million, images and values shown in programmes have had large impact on British people's attitudes to authority, morality and range of social issues.
1.3 Sit-Coms
1.3.1 Many sit-coms of 70s share a number of common traits Fawlty Towers 12.5 million peak audience Main characters: Hotel manager Basil Fawlty, his wife Sybil and a Spanish waiter, Manuel Main setting: Fawlty towers Hotel in Torquay, Devon Plot: Basil is centre of a stressful situation. Manuel makes things worse before Sybil sorts everything out Influence attitudes towards women Porridge 16.8 million peak audience Main characters: Fletch, an habitual criminal in his 40s, and his cell-mate Godber, in his early 20s, in prison for the first time, and who wants to go straight Main setting: fictional slade Prison, mostly in Fletch and Godber's cell Plot: Fletch knows everything there is to know about prison and is usually involved in a scam at the expense of the prison guards or trying to help Godber Influence attitudes towards authority (police and prison wardens) The Good Life 15.7 million peak audience Main characters: Husband and wife Tom and Barbara Good, who decide to give up their jobs and live off the land in their back garden in Surbiton, and their nouveau rich neighbours, Margot and Jerry Leadbetter


  • Nouveau riche: someone who has made a lot of money in their own lifetime rather than inherited their wealth Main setting: The Good's house and garden Plot: although they fundamentally get on very well, the Leadbetters look down upon the Goods' attempts to grow vegetables and rear livestock in their garden and the Goods criticise the Leadbetter's materialism Influence attitudes towards class and consumerism
1.4 Soaps and dramas
1.4.1 Coronation Street most popular soap. Popular dramas based on past like ITV's Upstairs Downstairs, set in England 1903-1930, or on contemporary policing. The Professionals and The Sweeny reflected the modern side of tough policing.
1.5 The press
1.6 Cinema
1.7 News and documentaries
2 How far were the 1970s a disastrous decade for the British?
2.1 A decade full of tension and an absence of good taste. Arthur Marwick has suggested that 'perhaps violence, racial tension and terrorism are the most important social phenomena of the 1970s'. However, many people who lived through the 70s look back and claim a sense of nostalgia. There was a quick succession of distinctive styles, from the hippies' flared trousers at the start of the decade, through the punks' ripped, safety-pinned clothes at the end of the decade, which challenged the status quo. The 1970s could be seen as the decade when the permissive values of a small minority in the 1960s became more widely discussed, experienced and perhaps, accepted by British people.
2.2 Financial Context
2.2.1 1973 saw an end of the 'golden era' of capitalism. In October 1973, a number of Arab states invaded Israel. In retaliation for American support for Israel, the Arab members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) stopped the supply of oil to the USA. The price of oil soon quadrupled. The pound had already been devalued in 1967, so the cost of all imports rose. The 'oil shock', the devaluation of the pound and huge cuts in government spending sent the British economy into a damaging recession.
2.2.2 1974-78 the standard of living fell for the first time since the start of the 1950s; unemployment rose from 2% to 4.7%.
2.2.3 Inflation averaged 13% in 70s and rose as high as 25% IN 1975; a weekly shop that had cost £25 in 1970 cost £115 in 1983.
2.2.4 The price rises led trade unions to demand higher wages, which further worsened inflation; a vicious cycle. Govenment efforts to limit pay increases led to a tense struggle with the unions (widely reported in media). Miners caused power cuts and every 3-day working week when they went on strike in 1972 and 1974.
2.2.5 Things worsened in winter 1978-79 when public sector workers went on strike; litter was not collected by dustmen and piled on the streets; in one Liverpool graveyard the workers refused to bury the dead.
2.3 Political Conect
2.3.1 Instead of Butskellism, British people were faced with a stark choice between strong left-wing rule of trade unions and a strongly right-wing, perhaps even fascist government.


  • Butskellism was a blend of Conservative Chancellor Butler and Labour Chancellor Gaitskell. The economic policies of both parties came to an agreement.
2.3.2 On the left, union leaders such as Jack Gormley of the National Union of Miners, seemed to be the most powerful men in the country; in every instance the government had to give in to union demands for wage increases.
2.3.3 On the right, Margaret Thatcher, leader of Conservative Party from 1975, gradually emerged as the voice of reaction against the 'mob rule' of the unions.
2.3.4 Many people sympathised with the unions at the start of the decade, but the disruption to everyday life caused by the strikes led to a loss of support as the decade wore on.
2.3.5 The other major source of attention was the Northern Ireland. Tension between Protestants and Catholics erupted in violence in 1969; the British government sent in troops to try and restore order. However, events such as Bloody Sunday only inflamed the situation (the violence escalated in the 70s and spread to mainland Britain, With Provisional IRA bombs set off in London, Birmingham and Guildford.


  • IRA: Irish Republican Army Bloody Sunday: 27 protesters were shot and 14 of these killed by British troops in the Bogside area of Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The government saw this as the biggest threat to British security since WW2 and passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 21 November 1964. This was a draconian piece of legislation that allowed the police to arrest people merely on suspicion that they were plotting acts of terrorism.
2.4 Social Context
2.4.1 The 1969 Divorce Reform Act and the 1970 Matrimonial Property Act made it easier for women in particular to seek a divorce. Within a year the rate of divorce doubled to 100,000. In 1965, there were only 2.8 divorces/1000 population; by 1975 had increased to 9.6/1000 population; by 1980 was 12/1000 population.
2.4.2 An increasing number of married women began to go to work; in 1951 1/4 did, by 1970 it rose to 1/2 and 3/4 by 1990.
2.4.3 The 1970s saw a growth of 'women's lib'; the National Women's Conference first met in February 1970 to demand equal pay, free contraception and childcare. In 1972, the feminist magazine Spare Rib was launched. The founders of the magazine also staged a demonstration against the Miss World competition that year. In October 1970, the Australian feminist Germaine Greer published The Female Eunuch, in which she argued for an end to marriage. The book was widely discussed, and Greer made often appearances of TV and radio.
2.4.4 By the start of the 1970s, the era of mass black and Asian immigration to Britain was over; their combined population had already risen from 337,000 in 1961 to 650,000 in 1971. Only significant influx after this was when 30,000 Ugandan Asians were granted refuge after they were forced to flee by dictator Idi Amin. However, immigrants continued to settle in only few towns and cities; in such places, racial tension developed.

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