‘How Does it Feel?’: Masculinity, Transformation and Structures of Feeling in British Television in the 1970s and 1980s

Dyer, Nigel (2015) ‘How Does it Feel?’: Masculinity, Transformation and Structures of Feeling in British Television in the 1970s and 1980s. Doctoral thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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Abstract

This thesis examines representations of masculinity in British television of the 1970s and 1980s which reveal a structure of feeling around masculine discourses of the period. It questions the ease of transformative change in gender identities and gender relations in terms of masculine performance by stressing both limitations and resistance to change against the backdrop of social, cultural and economic shifts which took place in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s. While the Introduction sets out the key questions and problems which this thesis addresses together with the historical context, Chapter Two consists of a Literature Review of some of the most important extant literature concerned with the representations of masculinity on screen. Chapter Three establishes the methodological framework which underpins this investigation which incorporates both textual analysis, particularly through the application of Raymond Williams’s concept of structures of feeling, and gender theory. The thesis then goes on to deconstruct the work of a number of television writers who foregrounded a structure of feeling around male anxieties examining the interrelation between residual, dominant and emergent discourses of gender within their work. In the first of a series of case studies, Chapter Four examines the work of Peter McDougall arguing that the social structures which underpin his protagonists’ milieu are so potent and insidious that they render masculine transformation as highly problematic. Chapter Five places Trevor Preston’s Fox and Alan Bleasdale’s Boys From the Blackstuff as the obverse of each other as responses to social change. The former shows how patriarchy and hegemonic masculinity remains in place by absorbing emergent discourses into adapted configurations of gender practice, the latter reveals the increasing marginalisation of traditional masculinities whilst largely ignoring gender inequity. Chapter Six examines Clement and La Frenais’ Auf Wiedersehen, Pet where more fluid, open, fragile, and multiple masculine identities emerge as a consequence of a variety of discursive practices and inter-subjectivity. Yet in the face of change the narratives stress the importance of nostalgic homosociality as a way of reaffirming residual identities. In conclusion this thesis suggests a model of gender which, whilst undergoing a considerable degree of destabilisation which may facilitate certain changes in normative behaviour, may also be so deeply entrenched within the individual and collective unconscious as to render certain aspects of reflexive transformation problematic.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Lesley Cresswell
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2021 13:15
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2021 13:15
URI: https://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/1755

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