Men in reserve

British civilian masculinities in the Second World War

By Juliette Pattinson, Arthur McIvor and Linsey Robb

Men in reserve


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-0069-6
  • Pages: 400
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: January 2017
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Gender studies: men, Humanities / Second World War, History, Gender studies: men & boys, c 1940 to c 1949, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Men's Studies, HISTORY / General, History, Second World War, Modern warfare
  • Series: Cultural History of Modern War


Men in reserve focuses on working class civilian men who, as a result of working in reserved occupations, were exempt from enlistment in the armed forces. It uses fifty six newly conducted oral history interviews as well as autobiographies, visual sources and existing archived interviews to explore how this group articulated their wartime experiences and how they positioned themselves in relation to the hegemonic discourse of military masculinity. It considers the range of masculine identities circulating amongst civilian male workers during the war and investigates the extent to which reserved workers draw upon these identities when recalling their wartime selves. It argues that the Second World War was capable of challenging civilian masculinities, positioning the civilian man below that of the 'soldier hero' while, simultaneously, reinforcing them by bolstering the capacity to provide and to earn high wages, frequently in risky and dangerous work, all which were key markers of masculinity.


'This well-researched volume belongs in all WW II collections.'
J. R. Breihan, Loyola University Maryland, Choice, September 2017


1. Men in reserve: recovering the civilian man
2. Raising an 'industrial army': the policy of reservation in the First and Second
World Wars
3. 'Making a contribution to the war effort': reactions to reserved status,
masculinity and the military
4. Grafters not shirkers: reserved men at work
5. Bodies on the line: risk, health and manliness
6. Outside the factory gates: reserved life on the home front
7. Forgotten: the missing legacy of Britain's reserved occupations
Concluding thoughts


Juliette Pattinson is Reader in Modern History at the University of Kent

Arthur McIvor is Professor in Social History and Director of the Scottish Oral History Centre at the University of Strathclyde

Linsey Robb is Senior Lecturer in History at Teesside University

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