Anchor, circa 1800, Southsea beach

​British Social and Cultural History research

Explore our work in British social and culture history, one of our areas of expertise in History

The study of cultures is fundamental to our understanding of the life, experiences, activities, values and collective imagination of British society. Our research in British Social and Cultural History moves away from the traditional ‘Great Men of History’ view of the past, and instead explores the experiences and lives of ordinary people in Britain across the social spectrum.

By understanding the factors that shaped the everyday lives of people throughout history, we can better understand our own culture – and begin to make sense of how our society may change in the future. Through our research, we aim to answer important questions about British culture, and how it's formed and changed.

We're studying the history of subcultures and countercultures, and the role that cultures of all types play in creating division or unity within society. We're also investigating how notions of what is 'acceptable' or 'appropriate' within a culture develop over time, examining who makes these judgements, and how clashes between values systems (and the moral panics that follow) can shape cultural forms and activities.

We're exploring the relationship between local, popular and mass culture too, and expanding our knowledge and expertise in the rich culture history of Britain through research into topics such as urban history, imperialism, working-class culture, leisure history, masculinity, folklore, citizenship, and civic identity.

Recent project highlights include

  • Port Towns & Urban Culture

    explores the importance of ports as liminal places where marine and urban spaces converge, producing a unique site of socio-cultural exchange that reinforced and challenged identities, perceptions and boundaries

  • Supernatural Cities

    brings together historians, cultural geographers, folklorists, social psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, and literary scholars to explore the representation of urban heterotopias, otherness, haunting, estranging, the uncanny, enchantment, affective geographies, communal memory and the urban fantastical 

  • Spiritualism in the First World War (Arts and Humanities Research Council project)

    a project that explores the revival of interest in Spiritualism during the war, and goes beyond the view that it was just a knee-jerk response to widespread grief and loss

Discover our areas of expertise

British social and cultural history is one of 3 areas of expertise within our History research – explore the others below.

Early modern history

We're looking at the lives of people in Europe, between the 15th and 18th centuries, and how they made sense of their lives and formed their identities during a time of incredible change.
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Urban cultures

We're exploring the relationship between people and the urban environment of the city, and how living in a predominantly urban society affected – and continues to affect – those within it.
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Research groups

History Research Group

We're researching aspects of social and cultural history in European societies, and further afield.


Citizenship, Race and Belonging

We're researching issues around citizenship and why people are considered to belong within certain nation-states.


Interested in a PhD in History?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our History postgraduate research degrees page.