What is the course about?
This course explores the paradox of London in the 1980s and 1990s, a city reshaped by the free market ideas of the
government of Margaret Thatcher and the New Labour government of Tony Blair. During this extraordinary period
London experienced an unprecedented reversal of historical trends. For the first time since the 1850s London was
left without any single overarching governing authority, the post war dominance of publically owned and subsidised
housing was overturned, the archaic working practices of London’s financial centre, dominated by venerable firms
was broken down by a new freebooting capitalism. Amid the glitz of the period with its postmodern art and
architecture London experienced some of the worst street violence since Georgian times. The election of Tony Blair
re-enforced some of these trends, while reversing others. A new all London government with limited powers, the
GLA, was created, and a spate of new prestige public and private building projects transformed the skyline. New
waves of migrants and a liberalised economy speeded the transition of London into a post-industrial, post imperial
‘global city’. Yet persistent inequalities and injustices remained, epitomised by the case of Stephen Lawrence.
What will we cover?
The Abolition of the GLC and the creation of the GLA
• The Big Bang and the reshaping of the City of London
• The London Docklands Development Corporation and beyond
• Conserving London’s built environment
• Policing the crisis: the inner city riots to Stephen Lawrence
• Shopping and retailing
• Postmodernism in the arts and architecture; conservation and New Labour building projects
• Loft living and gentrification mark II
• London as a World City; neo-liberal paradoxes.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
Identify the forces that were shaping the economy and society of London in the 1980s
• Describe the links between politics and culture
• Engage in historical debate about policing and public order
• Assess the impact of Thatcherism on local government and housing in London.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an `introductory` course and does not assume any previous study or reading although you will need a good
grasp of English to keep up with the course and to participate fully in discussions. You will gain more from the
course, in terms of enjoyment and learning, if you are able and willing to do some supplementary reading. As with
most of our history and current affairs courses, curiosity, an open mind and a willingness to listen to and think about
views with which you do not always agree are more important than specific levels of skills.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Classes will be taught through a mixture of illustrated lectures and discussion. Materials will include maps and
plans, drawings, formal and informal writings, using projected images and paper handouts.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
No additional costs. Please bring pen and paper (or electronic equivalent).Books and resources will be recommended throughout the course.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
London and British history courses starting in September. Please see the prospectus for the 2019-2020 academic year or the website.