Working-Class Precarity and the Social-Realist Tradition in British Cinema

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This article locates contemporary representations of precarity in relation to a lengthy social-realist tradition within British cinema stretching back to the 1930s when the documentary movement both “honoured” manual labour but also associated the working class with poverty, poor housing, unemployment and economic insecurity. It will identify the 1980s and 1990s, when the re-structuring of the economy, de-industrialization and introduction of anti-trade union legislation generated mass unemployment and devastated traditional working-class communities, as the key period for the emergence of a new kind of cinematic imagery and story-telling that has remained highly influential. The paper will focus in particular on the work of the director Ken Loach whose film and television work since the 1960s provides a set of changing representation of the working class in which precarity has become increasingly prominent.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPrecarity in European Film
Subtitle of host publicationDepictions and Discourses
EditorsElisa Cuter, Guido Kirsten, Hannah Prenzel
Place of PublicationBerlin
Publisherde Gruyter
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-11-070791-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-11-070772-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • Class
  • Precarity
  • British Cinema
  • Social Realism

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