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Thatcherism, Popular Culture and the 1980s
​The legacy of Thatcherism is still with us – percolated through neo-liberalism – and influencing the ways in which (everyday) culture is evaluated and produced in the contemporary climate of financial and cultural globalisation. The research project Thatcherism, Popular Culture and the 1980s focuses on Thatcherism and its relationship, and influence on, popular culture. A paradoxical mutual interdependence of contemporary popular culture and neo-liberalist tradition is the project’s starting point. The project studies subjects spanning the last 30 years, but concentrates on the 1980s.
By analysing a variety of source materials, the project will provide new perspectives on popular culture’s relationship to Thatcherism in the 1980s as well as its continuing legacy. The project adopts an interdisciplinary approach because of the multitude of source types, and creates a multidisciplinary network for the project including popular music, film, television and fashion studies, cultural history and social/political sciences. Popular cultural texts of the 1980s form a complex network of media texts interacting and intertwining with each other and debating, expressing, re-creating and opposing Thatcherite ideology.
Thatcherism managed to capture the ground of ideological ‘common sense’ and to connect it to its traditionalist and authoritarian dimensions reflected in the increasing prominence of national heritage. Under the surface of such popular cultural phenomena as fashion and hit singles there are practical and symbolic effects of the Thatcherite legacy, with its neo-liberalist conjuncture, also on cultural industries. Our project searches for ruptures and breaks which indicate that Thatcherite 1980s cultural regions and arenas form an assemblage and a multiplicity of various active forces, often in paradoxical mutual interdependence on each other and working as a tool for neoliberal revolution.

Keywords: Thatcherism, Neo-Liberalism, British popular culture, 1980s, popular music, fashion, television, film, drama, comedy, heritage culture, Margaret Thatcher in popular culture.

Research site: Department of Cultural History, University of Turku. Project leader: Adjunct Professor Kari Kallioniemi. Researchers: Raita Merivirta, Rami Mähkä. Funded by Kone Foundation, 2014–16.


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