Identity and Culture in New Zealand During the Fifties: The Cultural Identity Gap Between the ‘Somewhat Mediocre Dominant Mass Culture’ and the Writing Public

By:
Antje Bednarek
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The Ffties in New Zealand - no different to many other countries in the western world - are persitently thought of as the 'Golden Weather Decade': young families, many many happy children living in intact suburban-home families, more jobs than hands and prosperity for all... They are also often described as dull and conformist. In New Zealand historiography, both these views circumscribe the received opinion.
Doubt about how dull the Fifties really were, however, seems justified. On many levels, the Fifties were just as turbulent as any other decade. To which extent, then, have ways of writing history contributed to this blurred golden image? Which phenomena or attitudes seem to still justify deriding the lives and aspirations of one generation and a whole society? And to which extent does the distorted image of the Fifties with its handed down opinions of the ordinary New Zealander's fear of intellectuals and love of gossip obstruct even present-day relations between various social groups (classes?) in this country? These questions, among others, I seek to answer in my research.


Keywords: Culture, Identity, Writers, Mainstream Culture, 1950s, Cultural Sociology, Cultural Materialism, Raymond Williams, T. S. Eliot
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies and Humanities, Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Gender
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Antje Bednarek

Masters Student, Social Science Group
Environment, Society and Design Division, Lincoln University

Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand

German-born, 27 years old, BA in Geography (Human G.) and North American Studies (Sociology and Geography) from Humboldt University and Free University Berlin, Germany; Graduate Assistant in the Department of Geography at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Free University Berlin for 1 year, Assistant in the JFKI Library for 1 year; member of the theological postgraduate society "Religion and Culture" (under Prof. Graeb) at the Humboldt University, Berlin for 2 years with conference presentation on Pierre Bourdieu's Constructivist Structuralism in June 2003; took up Masters of Social Science at Lincoln University, New Zealand in July 2004; Summer Research Scholarship for the Maori Planning and Development Department, topic: "Bicultural Policies in Academic Libraries in Aotearoa New Zealand", Nov 2004 - Feb 2005 (Conference Presentation of my research in Sept 2005 for LIANZA, Library Association of Aotearoa NZ); Lincoln University Postgraduate Scholarship awarded from Jan 2005 on; Teaching Assistant in the Social Science Group from Feb. 2005; commenced research for Masters Thesis in Sept 2005 on "Culture and Identity in NZ during the Fifties"
Took up oil painting in Sept 2005 - my main interest at the moment apart from walking various dogs for long hours, biking and reading.

Ref: I06P0084