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Abstract

This article explores ways of writing the history of 1980s Britain. It argues that historians should avoid an overreliance upon identifying the decade with the politics of Margaret Thatcher and her government. Instead, the article suggests that a richer historical understanding of the 1980s will be achieved if we look for other trajectories and developments that intersect with immediate political change, but are not entirely dependent upon events at Westminster. This article also offers thoughts on how historians might conceptualize social change in the 1980s. The article reviews both older literature on Britain in the 1970s and 1980s and more recent interventions and suggests directions in which research might proceed.