Financial consumerism: mass investment culture and Thatcherism, c.1958-1995

Edwards, Amy (2017). Financial consumerism: mass investment culture and Thatcherism, c.1958-1995. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The rise of a mass investment culture has been recognised by academics and contemporaries alike. Generally understood in the British context as ‘popular capitalism’, the growing numbers of individuals with a stake in stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic has been an integral part of the advent of what is loosely termed neoliberalism in contemporary societies. However, we know very little about how this mass investment culture developed and evolved in the late-twentieth century, and the relationship it fostered between the individual and the financial services industry.

This thesis seeks to explore this phenomenon as it emerged in Britain, in order to highlight the limitations of popular capitalism, both as a political project and as a framework of analysis for understanding the 1980s. Instead a concept of financial consumerism is offered as a more useful lens through which to understand the changes associated with Thatcherism and neoliberal reform in Britain. In doing so, this research moves our site of analysis away from the national and Thatcher-centred bounds of the Conservative Party’s political project, and the economic ideologies of New Right think tanks and economists in Chicago, Germany and Austria. Instead, analysis centres on the actions of agents external to the Conservative Party. They transformed an ideological project designed to create self-governing citizens into a form of consumption which favoured large financial institutions at the expense of the individual consumer.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of History
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain


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