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The Attlee governments in perspective - commitment and detachment in the writing of contemporary history.

Burgess, Simon Gregory (1994) The Attlee governments in perspective - commitment and detachment in the writing of contemporary history. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The early to mid-nineteen eighties saw the publication of several substantial studies of the two immediate post-war Labour governments, studies which - in claiming to meet all the requirements of scholarly history - also made out a strong case for the possibility of a value-free explanation of the recent past. The basis for this assertion is examined in the present account by means of a preliminary survey of the changes through which the literature on the Attlee governments has already passed, drawing attention to the differing attitudes and presuppositions of the main schools of historical and other disciplinary opinion and the extent to which these differing approaches - exhibiting contrasting elements of commitment and detachment, and of insight and distortion - can be shown to have contributed to, or departed from, the notion of an enhanced understanding. Evidence for the growth of a more objectively critical history is then explored in greater detail by tracing the development of some of the central problems and controversies relating to the period after 1945, clarifying the main points at issue, outlining the evolution of evidence and interpretation, and demonstrating the way in which empirically-based explanations have, by scholars working independently together, become recognisably accepted. That these arguments have given rise to a variety of alternative viewpoints, which it is has not proved possible to choose between or account for on empirical grounds alone, also lends support - however - to the continuing influence of personal, partial and evaluative considerations. To this end, a framework of historiographical change is proposed which, in tracing the progress made towards a more dispassionate view of the Attlee years, and the reasons for the persistence of remaining disagreements, throws light upon the wider question of the possibilities and limitations of contemporary historical inquiry.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: History, General
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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