Men in Reserve: British Civilian Masculinities in the Second World War

TitleMen in Reserve: British Civilian Masculinities in the Second World War
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsPattinson, Juliette, Arthur McIvor, and Linsey Robb
Number of Pages400
PublisherManchester University Press

Men in Reserve focuses on working class civilian men who, as a result of working in reserved occupations, were exempt from enlistment in the armed forces. It uses 56 newly conducted oral history interviews as well as autobiographies, visual sources, and existing archived interviews to explore how this group articulated their wartime experiences and how they positioned themselves in relation to the hegemonic discourse of military masculinity. It considers the range of masculine identities circulating amongst civilian male workers during the war and investigates the extent to which reserved workers draw upon these identities when recalling their wartime selves. It argues that the Second World War was capable of challenging civilian masculinities, positioning the civilian man below that of the 'soldier hero' while, simultaneously, reinforcing them by bolstering the capacity to provide and to earn high wages, frequently in risky and dangerous work, all of which were key markers of masculinity. 

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