Cultures of Conservatism in the United States and Western Europe between the 1970s and 1990s

German Historical Institute London
Tobias Becker (German Historical Institute London), Anna von der Goltz (Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.) and Martina Steber (Institut für Zeitgeschichte München-Berlin)
14.09.2017 - 16.09.2017
Martina Steber

The decades from the 1970s to the 1990s are often seen as a time of revolutionary change triggered by economic crises, in which the parameters and conditions for our present times were set. Conservatism looms large in this narrative; after all, the Reagan and Thatcher governments in the United States and in Britain implemented economic and social policies that fundamentally changed the welfare state economies of the boom years. Conservatism is therefore often interpreted as neoliberalism in conservative guise, as the defining political ideology of finance capitalism. However, conservatism was a much more diverse phenomenon than these interpretations suggest. While economics and politics were certainly crucial in the fashioning of a new conservatism in Western Europe and the United States, conservatism was also a diverse cultural phenomenon, which is not adequately reflected in historical research to date.

The conference “Cultures of Conservatism in the United States and Western Europe between the 1970s and 1990s” seeks to fill this historiographical gap by questioning the primacy of economics and debating alternative interpretations of this age of change. Focusing on cultures of conservatism, the conference rethinks the general contours of conservatism. It pays close attention to the intersection of culture, politics and economics, in order to broaden our understanding of the processes of change that have unfolded since the 1970s.

Supported by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung


Thursday, 14 September

1.00 – 1.45 pm

Welcome by Andreas Gestrich, Director of the German Historical Institute London

Introduction by Tobias Becker (London), Martina Steber (Munich), and Anna von der Goltz (Washington, DC)

Panel 1: Conservatism on Screen: Film and TV

Chair: Tobias Becker (London)

1.45 – 3.00 pm

Maya Pinhasi (Tel Aviv): American Conservatism and the Making of Corporate Hollywood

Nikolai Wehrs (Konstanz): “Yes Minister”. A Popular Sitcom as an Educational Medium for Thatcherism?

3.00 – 3.30 pm Tea and Coffee

3.30 – 5.00 pm

Andre Dechert (Augsburg): Longing for the Past. Conservatism and Changing US-American Family Values, 1981-1992

Michael Hill (Heidelberg): Old England. Constructions of Britain and Britishness in German Popular Conservatism, 1970-2000

6.00 – 8.00 pm

Roundtable Discussion

Cultures of Conservatism in an Age of Transformation – Interpreting Conservatism between the 1970s and 1990s

Chair: Christina von Hodenberg (London)

Discussants: Andy Beckett (The Guardian), Frank Bösch (Potsdam), Bethany Moreton (Dartmouth)

Friday, 15 September

Panel 2: Consumer Cultures

Chair: Alexander Sedlmaier (Bangor)

9.30 – 11.00 am

Lawrence Black (York): Handbooks of Conservatism

Amanda Eubanks Winkler (Syracuse): Andrew Lloyd Webber and Thatcherite Arts Policy

11.00 – 11.30 am Tea and Coffee

11.30 am – 1.00 pm

Matthew Francis (Birmingham): ‘The Spiritual Ballast Which Maintains Responsible Citizenship’: Property, Private Enterprise, and Thatcher's Nation

Reinhild Kreis (Mannheim): Conservative Practices. Lifestyles, Consumption, and Protest in 1970s and 1980s West Germany

1.00 – 2.00 pm Sandwich Lunch

Panel 3: Business Cultures

Chair: Jenny Pleinen (Augsburg)

2.00 – 4.00 pm

Bethany Ellen Morton (Dartmouth College): Between God and Wal-Mart

Marcia Chatelain (Washington, D.C.): Ronald McDonald, Richard Nixon, and the Fast Food Future of Black America

Bernhard Dietz (Washington, D.C.): From “New Class” to “Yuppies”: Managers and Conservatism in the USA, Great Britain and West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s

4.00 – 4.30 pm Tea and Coffee

Panel 4: Countercultures

Chair: Anna von der Goltz (Washington, D.C.)

4.30 – 6.30 pm

Craig Griffiths (Manchester): “Gay Equals Left?” Conservative Responses to Gay Liberation in West Germany and the United States, 1969-1980

Claudia Roesch (Münster): From Right to Life to Operation Rescue – The Re-shaping of Conservative Cultures through the Anti-Abortion Movement in the 1980s USA

Gisa Bauer (Bensheim): Evangelicalism in Western Europe and the USA in 1970s and 1980s

Saturday, 16 September

Panel 5: Cultures of Conservative Internationalism

Chair: Robert Saunders (London)

9.30 – 11.00 am

Martin John Farr (Newcastle): Thatcherism and the Transnationalisation of Conservatism, 1975-1997

Peter Hoeres (Würzburg): Thatcherism and Reaganomics in Germany: The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and the Conservative Revolutions in the Anglosphere

11.00 – 11.30 am Tea and Coffee

11.30 am – 1.00 pm

Sarah Majer (Potsdam): “Un anarchico conservatore“. Giuseppe Prezzolini and the Redefinition of Italian Conservatism in the 1970s

Johannes Großmann (Tübingen): Conservatism as a Lifestyle? Cross-Border Mobility, Transnational Sociability, and the Emergence of a Transatlantic Conservative Milieu since the Late 1960s

1.00 - 1.30 pm

Final Discussion

Chair: Martina Steber (Munich)


Carole Sterckx

German Historical Institute London, 17 Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2NJ

Cultures of Conservatism in the United States and Western Europe between the 1970s and 1990s, 14.09.2017 – 16.09.2017 London, in: H-Soz-Kult, 16.07.2017, <>.