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How the Built Environment Made Twentieth-Century Britain

Sam Wetherell

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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Geschichte


An urban history of modern Britain, and how the built environment shaped the nation’s politics

Foundations is a history of twentieth-century Britain told through the rise, fall, and reinvention of six different types of urban space: the industrial estate, shopping precinct, council estate, private flats, shopping mall, and suburban office park. Sam Wetherell shows how these spaces transformed Britain’s politics, economy, and society, helping forge a midcentury developmental state and shaping the rise of neoliberalism after 1980.

From the mid-twentieth century, spectacular new types of urban space were created in order to help remake Britain’s economy and society. Government-financed industrial estates laid down infrastructure to entice footloose capitalists to move to depressed regions of the country. Shopping precincts allowed politicians to plan precisely for postwar consumer demand. Public housing modernized domestic life and attempted to create new communities out of erstwhile strangers. In the latter part of the twentieth century many of these spaces were privatized and reimagined as their developmental aims were abandoned. Industrial estates became suburban business parks. State-owned shopping precincts became private shopping malls. The council estate was securitized and enclosed. New types of urban space were imported from American suburbia, and planners and politicians became increasingly skeptical that the built environment could remake society. With the midcentury built environment becoming obsolete, British neoliberalism emerged in tense negotiation with the awkward remains of built spaces that had to be navigated and remade.

Taking readers to almost every major British city as well as to places in the United States and Britain’s empire, Foundations highlights how some of the major transformations of twentieth-century British history were forged in the everyday spaces where people lived, worked, and shopped.

Weitere Titel von diesem Autor



Susan Pedersen (historian), Public housing in the United Kingdom, Publication, John Maynard Keynes, Suburb, Landlord, Urban planning, Thamesmead, Household, Employment, Industrialisation, Planned community, Political economy, Real estate development, Urban planner, Grandparent, Ship canal, Tenement, Tower block, Security guard, Politician, Welfare state, Public housing, Parking lot, Archivist, Wythenshawe, Apartment, South Wales, Modernity, Council house, Industrial district, Amenity, Postwar Britain, Building, Redevelopment, Economic development, Manufacturing, Housewife, Cambridge University Press, Notting Hill, Jane Jacobs, Infrastructure, Consumerism, Business park, Churchill Gardens, Residential community, National Garden Festival, Housing estate, Ownership, Retail, Shopping mall, Politics, Technology, Team Valley, Trade union, England and Wales, Manchester Ship Canal, Urban history, Milton Keynes, Urban sprawl, Urbanism, Raine, Walkway, Residential area, Development plan, Suburbanization, Neoliberalism, Supply (economics), Workforce, Regional policy, Thatcherism, Public space, Industrial policy, Urban renewal, Office Space, Trafford Park, Low-rise, Greater London Council, Privatization, Science park, Unemployment, Deindustrialization, Legislation, Department store, Subsidy, Agriculture, Housing development, Librarian, Planning permission, Workplace, District heating, Industrial Revolution, Supermarket, Developmental state, Residents' association, Raw material, Urbanization, Capitalism, Routledge, Traffic in Towns