Growing Up Modern

Childhood, Youth and Popular Culture Since 1945

Childhood and youth have always been a focus for our most intense hopes and anxieties. Yet over the past seventy years, there has been a far-reaching transformation, both in children’s and young people’s lives and in our ideas about childhood. Growing Up Modern aims to explore these changes by looking at popular culture – film, television, popular music and books, and consumer products more broadly. It considers how children and young people have been represented, addressed and entertained, and what this tells us about the broader social and cultural developments of the time. The main focus is on developments in the UK and (secondarily) the USA.

This site contains a series of illustrated essays aimed at the general reader, not just an academic audience. From The Famous Five to Rebel Without A Cause, through emo kids and Schoolkids Oz, and on to Skins and Teletubbies, it explores the popular cultural worlds of childhood and youth in an era of radical change. New essays will appear here in a random sequence, approximately every couple of months or so, as the fancy takes me. You can find a more extended outline of the aims of the project here, and some more general essays about children, youth and media here.

Click on the titles to read the essays:

Glitter, glam and gender play: pop and teenybop in the early 1970s

Children of the revolution? The hippy counter-culture, the idea of childhood and the case of Schoolkids Oz

What can a poor boy do? Representations of child poverty in British cinema, 1969-2013

Emo and The Paradox of Contemporary Youth Culture

An awkward age: representing childhood in 1950s Britain

Troubling teenagers: how movies constructed the juvenile delinquent in the 1950s

Just William: ‘the most popular boy in fiction’

 

Coming next:  Hayley Mills and the Disneyfication of childhood…… This is England: growing up in Thatcher’s Britain …… The Famous Five and the limits of children’s agency …… Before London started swinging: representing the British beats…