Aaron Ackerley

Title: Economic Ideas in the Interwar British Daily Press
Period: Post-1800
Funded by: Wolfson Foundation Postgraduate Scholarship
Start Year: 2013
Email: amackerley1@sheffield.ac.uk

Primary: Dr Adrian Bingham | Secondary: Dr Dina Gusenova

Semester One 2019/20 Office Hour: Fridays 15:00-16:00


Academic background

  • M.A. Twentieth Century History (Distinction), University of Liverpool, 2013
  • B.A. (Hons.) Modern History and Politics (First Class), University of Liverpool, 2012

Research topic

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.


Conference papers

  • 'The Media Strategy of the Empire Crusade, 1929-1932', International Association For Media And Communication Research Annual Conference, University of Oregon (Eugene, June 2018)
  • ‘John Citizen, the ‘Little Man’ and the Creation of a Trope: The Man in the Street vs Taxation’, The Role and the Self Image of the Satirist in the 21st Century Symposium (London, June 2018)
  • '"But I have not even tried to read Keynes, so do not pretend to understand…": The Manchester Guardian’s Coverage of Economic Issues in the Interwar Period', The Guardian in Local, National and Global History Conference (Manchester, April 2017)
  • '"It is a battle of party politics against a great ideal": The Empire Crusade as Popular Movement', Social History Society Conference (London, April 2017)
  • ‘"Power Without Responsibility"? …Or Power Without Realising?: The Empire Crusade Campaign, Press Power and the Making of a Modern Myth', Myth vs. Reality Conference, University of Southampton (Southampton, March 2017)
  • 'The Empire Free Trade Movement: A Manufactured Community?’, Concepts of Community Conference, University of Sheffield (Sheffield, March 2016)
  • ‘The Manchester Guardian under C.P. Scott and W.P. Crozier: Handling Economic and Social Issues’, Communities of Communication Conference, University of Sheffield (Sheffield, September 2014)

Book reviews

  • Unemployment and the State in Britain: The Means Test and Protest in 1930s South Wales and North–East England, by Stephanie Ward, Twentieth Century British History, 26.2 (2005), pp. 329-31
  • Managing the Economy, Managing the People, by Jim Tomlinson, Reviews in History (Forthcoming 2018)

Blog posts

  • Contributions to History Matters, the University of Sheffield History Department’s blog


  • Editor of Issue 7 of the Sheffield Humanities Postgraduate journal Track Changes


University of Sheffield Associate Tutor:

  • HST112 Paths from Antiquity to Modernity
  • HST117 The Making of the Twentieth Century
  • HST119 The Transformation of Britain, 1800 to the present
Affiliations and Awards


  • 2018 Stanford University – Hoover Library & Archives Workshop on Political Economy Fellowship, including stipend of $3,000
  • 2013-2016 University of Sheffield – Wolfson Foundation Postgraduate Scholarship in the Humanities
  • 2012-2013 University of Liverpool – AHRC Block Grant Research Masters Studentship
  • 2012 University of Liverpool – Mark Almeras Thomson Prize for highest dissertation mark
  • 2011 University of Liverpool – Gibson Sinclair University Undergraduate Scholarship