The naturalization of the alternatives in 1970s Britain through a 2020 XR lens

Nita, M (2022) 'The naturalization of the alternatives in 1970s Britain through a 2020 XR lens.' In: Nita, M and Kidwell, J.H, eds. Festival cultures: mapping new fields in the arts and social sciences. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, pp. 15-44. ISBN 9783030883911

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This chapter provides an analysis of the public response to hippies and alternative lifestyles in Britain in the early 1970s. I offer here a contrasting lens by looking at public performative actions in the Extinction Rebellion’s movement, XR, as the climate movement redefined itself in 2018. XR has been making alternative lifestyles more visible in the UK and has had a mixed reception in the media and public domain, from sympathy and support, all the way to (more extremely) being vilified, much like the early 1960s and 1970s alternatives. XR has a mainstream outreach—with the alternative/mainstream boundary having morphed since the 1970s into a more liberal/conservative value schism, which we have seen play out politically in the UK in recent years, through the Brexit divide (2016–2019). I am interested in examining some of the processes of ‘naturalization’ of the alternatives in British culture, by which I mean the negotiations of their status, rights and identities in relation to broader cultural forms and values. I will show that the 1970s marks a turning point in the gestation of the hippie culture into a much more diverse alternative culture, which is harder to classify. I show that the early British alternatives escaped their often-two-dimensional representation in the media by impacting their local communities. It was through alternative dwelling experiments and lifestyles that the alternatives inadvertently—and often deliberately—depicted the harmony between traditional Christian value and new postmaterial values (Tranter and Western. 2010), chiefly universalism and environmentalism—values that have been traditionally associated with the liberal left of the political spectrum. I end by reflecting on the legacy of this translation of values, when examining the Christian semiotics of protest actions in XR.

Item Type: Book Chapter or Section
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
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Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2022 21:13
Last Modified: 21 Jan 2022 21:13
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