British social and cultural 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
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
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
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.
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.
Interested in a PhD in History?
Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our History postgraduate research degrees page.