Lifestyle revolution

How taste changed class in late 20th-century Britain

By Ben Highmore

Lifestyle revolution
Hardcover -
  • Price: £25.00
  • ISBN: 9781526108821
  • Publish Date: Feb 2023
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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  • Price: £25.00
  • ISBN: 9781526132994
  • Publish Date: Feb 2023
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information

    • Format: Hardcover
    • ISBN: 978-1-5261-0882-1
    • Pages: 248
    • Price: £25.00
    • Published Date: February 2023


    In postwar Britain, journalists and politicians predicted that the class system would not survive a consumer culture where everyone had TVs and washing machines, and where more and more people owned their own homes. They were to be proved hopelessly wrong. Lifestyle revolution charts how class culture, rather than being destroyed by mass consumption, was remade from flat-pack furniture, Mediterranean cuisine and lifestyle magazines. Novelists, cartoonists and playwrights satirised the tastes of the emerging middle classes, while sociologists claimed that an entire population was suffering from 'status anxiety', but underneath it all, a new order was being constructed out of duvets, quiches and mayonnaise, easy chairs from Habitat, white emulsion paint and ubiquitous pine kitchen tables. More than just a world of symbolic goods, this was an intimate environment alive with new feelings and attitudes.


    ' What Highmore does beautifully is combine careful reading - he draws on a wealth of material, from writers including Angela Carter and Jonathan Raban - with concision and charm. In fact, one of the numerous strengths of Lifestyle Revolution is its quotes, which are well chosen and plentiful without overwhelming the text. The same could be said of its illustrations. He brings the best qualities of academic writing to a book the general reader will enjoy.'
    The Literary Review

    '...thought-provoking analysis of such a complex subject, done in such an entertaining style.'
    Shiny New Books

    'Lifestyle revolution is a brilliant corrective to our lazy habit of condescending to the recent past by reducing it to the eccentric, the uncool and the kitsch. Through his richly evocative readings of chicken bricks, quiches, self-assembly furniture, duvets and dinghies, Ben Highmore tells the unwritten story of our collective life. Blending the personal and the political with great skill, this book is a joy to read.'
    Joe Moran, Professor of English and Cultural History, Liverpool John Moores University and author of Armchair Nation: An Intimate History of Britain in Front of the TV

    'If you ever wondered how a taste for wooden floors, duvets and flat-pack furniture became widespread in British homes, this book is for you. Ben Highmore's focus on the feelings embedded in changing tastes allows him to investigate the meanings of material culture in the making of new middle-class identities. He brings to life a world of controlled casualness and spontaneous sociability - often around a stripped pine kitchen table - that will be familiar to many readers.'
    Deborah Sugg Ryan, Professor of Design History and Theory at the University of Portsmouth and author of Ideal Homes: Uncovering the History and Design of the Interwar House

    'An engrossing social and cultural history of the rise of consumerism, and a persuasive account of how it changed us.'
    Alwyn Turner, author of A Classless Society: Britain in the 1990s


    1 Taste and tastemakers
    2 Instant good taste: the Habitat story
    3 The good life
    4 Colour supplement living
    5 Welcome to the village
    6 Through the plateglass window
    7 Status striving and other myths we live by
    8 But isn't that a class thing?
    9 From the West Indian front room to Root
    10 Adrian Mole, the future of taste, and me.


    Ben Highmore is Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex. His books include The Art of Brutalism: Rescuing Hope from Catastrophe in 1950s Britain (2017) and The Great Indoors: At Home in the Modern British House (2014).

    Lifestyle revolution

    By Ben Highmore

    Hardcover £25.00 / $36.95

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