Title: Economic Ideas in the Interwar British Daily Press
Funded by: Wolfson Foundation Postgraduate Scholarship
Start Year: 2013
Semester One 2019/20 Office Hour: Fridays 15:00-16:00
This thesis is an exploration of economic ideas in the British interwar daily press, focusing on four titles: The Times, the Manchester Guardian, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express. The contention that knowledge is power is examined by analysing the specific ways in which ideas were created, reformulated, and transmitted by journalists. The interwar period was a time of economic turmoil and political dislocation, with a large variety of economic understandings and policies vying for attention. New ideas and those that had emerged from the pre-war reconfiguration of British politics challenged orthodox thinking. The press was the dominant mode of communication at this important juncture.
An innovative approach is undertaken, with the newspapers being foregrounded as the central site of research. The surviving internal archives of the newspapers and a wide range of primary source material such as private papers, memoirs, biographies and official newspaper histories are used to reconstruct the day-to-day working practices of the newsrooms, helping provide important context for an analysis of the economic ideas that they published, accessed through digitised collections of the newspapers. This allows the actual functioning of editorial control to be assessed and reveals the importance of recognising the division of responsibilities within newspapers. The different types of content featured in the newspapers which contained economic ideas are surveyed, while the salience of their forms and conventions is explained. The specific journalists and departments responsible for creating the content are identified, and the personal, professional and political relationships which structured and informed their work are delineated. These considerations are then used to investigate two case studies: Free Trade versus Protectionism and The Gold Standard and ‘Sound Money’. Newspapers emerge as highly complex sites, with multiple lines of authority and with unique internal dynamics.
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