Many commentators tell us that, in today's world, everyday life has become selfish and atomised-that individuals live only to consume. But are they wrong? In Me, Me, Me, Jon Lawrence re-tells the story of England since the Second World War through the eyes of ordinary people-including his own parents- to argue that, in fact, friendship, family, and place all remain central to our daily lives, and whilst community has changed, it is far from dead. He shows how, in the years after the Second World War, people came increasingly to question custom and tradition as the pressure to conform to societal standards became intolerable. And as soon as they could, millions escaped the closed, face-to-face communities of Victorian Britain, where everyone knew your business. But this was not a rejection of community per se, but an attempt to find another, new way of living which was better suited to the modern world. Community has become personal and voluntary, based on genuine affection rather than proximity or need. We have never been better connected or able to sustain the relationships that matter to us. Me, Me, Me makes that case that it's time we valued and nurtured these new groups, rather than lamenting the loss of more 'real' forms of community-it is all too easy to hold on to a nostalgic view of the past.
Well-researched, engaging and highly informative, with real world examples from all over the country, this book is a must-read for anybody interested in learning about the complexities of British cultural heritage and society. * Colour PR Blog * An evocative exploration of how working-class attitudes have evolved over time in Britain [...] which reads with the colour and interest of a novel. * Gordon Parsons, The Morning Star * A refreshingly optimistic and generally convincing study. * A. W. Purdue, The Times Higher Education Supplement * This richly researched history [...] uncovers the reality behind romantic cliches of our postwar past. [Lawrence] convincingly suggests that the real history of community is one in which people have combined solidarity with self-reliance and privacy ... He makes his case with great clarity. * Selina Todd, The Guardian * [A] lively and generous study ... Lawrence's argument is stronger for the way in which it goes against the grain of prevailing thought about social change ... Me, Me, Me? gives its readers a vital alternative prism through which to view present-day social divisions. * Lynsey Hanley, The Financial Times * A vivid and convincing argument about the eternal tug between individualism and community. * Peter Mandler, History Today, Books of the Year 2019 *