‘Gunmen, rustlers and a damsel in distress’: working-class tastes in Derby

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:
‘Gunmen, rustlers and a damsel in distress’: working-class tastes in Derby

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This chapter explores working-class cultural tastes of the Midland town of Derby in the 1930s. The nature of the region's socio-economic structure greatly influenced consumers' taste preferences. Following national trends, cinema-going and reading were key cultural activities. However, while similarities existed, regional variations were in evidence too. These variations show that while there may have been similarities in the reading habits of the country's readers, the latter should not be viewed as an undifferentiated mass. While unemployment levels remained relatively low throughout the period, there were fluctuations, which affected the working classes' leisure participation. There were clear shifts in reading habits structured by employment patterns. Equivalent shifts in cinema-going habits cannot be identified, owing to lack of records. The trends reveal more about how valuable working-class consumers were to the town's cinema industry than the attitudes and values of those responsible for providing reading material to the town's citizens.

Keywords: Derby; key cultural activities; local authors; undifferentiated mass; unemployment levels

Chapter.  7563 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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