The business of leisure: sport, labour and co-operation in post-war Britain

ROBERTSON, Nicole (2014). The business of leisure: sport, labour and co-operation in post-war Britain. Labor History, 55 (5), 638-653.

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Compared with the activities of its European counterparts, the sporting and recreational pursuits of the British labour movement are less well known. Yet the co-operative movement organised an impressive range of sports clubs, competitions and events. Whereas previous studies have examined the relationship between the labour movement and working-class leisure during the interwar years, this article considers the interactions of the co-operative moment with popular discourses on recreation in Britain from the 1950s to the 1970s. In so doing, it challenges assumptions about the Left’s disconnection from sporting culture. The Co-op used sport to create a collective co-operative identity amongst its employees. Examining the social and political context of these activities in post-war Britain can inform debates on the construction of female identity through sport, the use of recreation for business advantage and the extent to which the co-operative movement shaped working-class leisure patterns. Although the article highlights that co-op sport formed a source of tension between the retail and wholesale sections of the movement and could be adversely affected by popular affluence, it argues that a reappraisal of the cooperative movement’s recreational activities contributes to a broader understanding of post-war working-class culture.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Humanities Research Centre
Departments - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities > Department of Humanities
Identification Number:
Page Range: 638-653
Depositing User: Nicole Robertson
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2017 12:50
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 17:31

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