‘A very profitable enterprise’: South Wales Miners’ Institutes

Robert James

in Popular Culture and Working-Class Taste in Britain, 1930-39

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780719080258
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702444 | DOI:
‘A very profitable enterprise’: South Wales Miners’ Institutes

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This chapter assesses the tastes of working-class consumers in the smaller and more local region of South Wales in order to analyse the popularity of certain films and novels, and consumers' responses to them. The South Wales Miners' Institutes played a central role in the life of the region's mining communities, answering many of their social, cultural and educational needs. They were working-class organizations chiefly financed, controlled and managed by the communities in which they were situated. In this sense, then, the Institutes were free from middle-class hegemony, although the values of the middle classes were filtering through, and miners' leaders were keen to use them as social spaces in which miners and their families could experience cultural edification. All the same, officials on both library and cinema committees understood that they had to answer to the needs and desires of those who frequented Institute halls. If Institutes were to thrive, they had to bow to the tastes of their customers; popular demand thus predictably ruled the day.

Keywords: South Wales; miners' institutes; working-class organizations; middle-class hegemony; cultural edification

Chapter.  15164 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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