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'Civil defence gives meaning to your leisure': Citizenship, participation, and cultural change in cold war recruitment propaganda, 1949-54

Grant, M (2011) ''Civil defence gives meaning to your leisure': Citizenship, participation, and cultural change in cold war recruitment propaganda, 1949-54.' Twentieth Century British History, 22 (1). 52 - 78. ISSN 0955-2359

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Abstract

In the early cold war, the British government founded a voluntary civil defence service designed to protect the nation and the population from the effects of enemy attack in the event of war. Although civil defence was a site of massive voluntary effort-around 500,000 people joined-it was also considered a 'failure'. This article examines the propaganda utilized to recruit these volunteers in the 'atomic age', and argues that the messages used reveal a range of concerns about the conflict, patriotism, and voluntarism in the early post-war years that existed in tension. In particular, it analyses the tensions between duty and service on the one hand, and leisure on the other, symptomatic of the wider debates surrounding citizenship and participation in the period. It also explains the importance of the Second World War and the gendered perceptions of civil defence in attempting to mobilize potential recruits. The article concludes that civil defence propaganda succeeded in mobilizing significant levels of participation, but was perceived as a failure due to an understanding of patriotic citizenship rooted in the cultural context of the Second World War. In a period of cultural change, propaganda began to emphasize leisure as well as duty, but struggled to reconcile the two messages in a way capable of convincing recruits in large enough numbers. © The Author [2010]. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2013 15:32
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2019 15:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/6926

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