Study questions

Discussion questions for seminars and classes where students have read chapters from the book.

1 The waging of war

  1. Did the war bring any degree of social levelling?
  2. What did the war do to national identity inWales?
  3. How serious and widespread was opposition to the war inWales?
  4. What were the most significant impacts of the war inWales?
  5. Did the Welsh experience of the war differ from elsewhere in theUK?

2 The spirit of reconstruction

  1. How did the war shape the reconstruction ofWales?
  2. What were the main goals of the programme of reconstruction?
  3. To what extent was there popular support for Labour Party and its policies?
  4. Was there a Welsh dimension to the programme of reconstruction?
  5. How should the historian sum up the late 1940s?

3 The hard times are finished

  1. To what extent was the Welsh economy restructured during the 1950s and 60s?
  2. How useful are economic statistics for understanding this period?
  3. Did consumer goods change life for people inWales?
  4. Why was there some unease about and resistance to the growth of affluence?
  5. Did poverty exist in the 1950s?
  6. To what extent had the Welsh ‘never had it so good’ in the 1950s? Were people happy?
  7. What do voting patterns tell us about people’s outlook at this time?
  8. Can the Welsh experience of affluence be compared with what was happening in the rest of theUK

4 Promiscuous living

  1. Why was rock’n’roll and pop music both so popular and so worrying?
  2. Was crime and promiscuity a significant problem?
  3. Were the fears about youth culture justified?
  4. How important was the modern media to youth culture?
  5. Did the sixties swing inWales? Were there rural and urban variations?
  6. What does youth culture contribute to an understanding of affluence and happiness in the 1950s and 60s?
  7. Can the Welsh experience of youth culture be compared with what was happening in the rest of theUK?

5 A new society

  1. Did the movement of people undermine traditional industrial and urban communities?
  2. Was the sense of decline in many industrial communities, a social or economic phenomenon?
  3. Was Wales a class-based society? Were there any differences in the dynamics of class betweenWalesandEngland?
  4. What does a consideration of ethnicity tell us about urbanWalesin the 1950s and 60s?
  5. Can we talk of an urban experience inWalesin this period?
  6. Did the social and political changes experienced by industrial communities have any political impact?

6 Life among the hills

  1. What was the ‘Welsh Wayof Life’?
  2. Why was ruralWalesseen to be the ‘realWales’?
  3. How accurate were the traditional views of rural life?
  4. To what extent did ruralWaleschange in the 1950s and 60s?
  5. To what extent should we regard ruralWalesin this period as a unique place?
  6. Was ruralWalesa religious society?

7 A cottonwool fuzz

  1. How important was the Welsh language to Welsh identity in the 1950s and 60s?
  2. What we surmise about Welshness from the language’s decline?
  3. Was the rise of Welsh-language education simply pandering to minority political interests?
  4. How should we regard the significance of the rise of Welsh-medium education and a Welsh media?
  5. Was Britishness a more powerful identity than Welshness?
  6. Do the sources exist to come to any firm conclusions about how people saw their Welsh identity? Is all we all lots of competing examples?
  7. By looking at this period through the lens of national identity are we distorting how “it was”?

8 Nationalists of many varieties

  1.  Does the Tryweryn affair deserve its symbolic place in Welsh history?
  2. Were Plaid Cymru a significant political force in the 1950s and 60s?
  3. Was the nationalist community right to see an urgency to their tasks and aims?
  4. To what extent did Cymdeithas yr Iaith represent a new direction in Welsh politics and Welsh culture?
  5. How should we regard and interpret the violent nationalist actions?
  6. Do you agree that direct action did more for the Welsh cause than the ballot box?
  7. What does an understanding of nationalism tell about how the silent majority saw their national identities?

9 Black Times

  1. Why did the Welsh economy face such significant problems in the 1970s?
  2. Were there any economic bright spots?
  3. How radical were Welsh workers during the 1970s and early 1980s?
  4. How significant a problem was unemployment in this period?
  5. Is the miners’ strike 1984-5 little more than a symbolic moment in Welsh history?
  6. Is it misleading to focus on the coal industry in considering this period and topic?
  7. Was the decline of the Labour Party inevitable in a climate of economic decline?
  8. How important is class to an understanding of this period?

10 Under an acid rain

  1. Is rugby simply a reflection of attitudes towardsWalesor did it have an active impact on how people thought and acted?
  2. Was Wales unified in its attitudes towards national identity?
  3. Why did Wales vote no in 1979?
  4. Is there a contradiction between the patriotism seen in rugby and wider ideas of national identity?
  5. Was Britishness in Wales simply hangover from older sentiments and older people?
  6. Can attitudes towards national identity in this period be divorced from the wider economic climate?
  7. Was Wales really standing under an acid rain?

11 Who’s happy?

  1. Did the position of women in Welsh society improve in the 1970s and 80s?
  2. To what extent were women complicit in their status?
  3. WasWalesa tolerant society?
  4. Was age a source of social inequality?
  5. Does the ongoing rise of consumerism mean the idea of the 1970s and 1980s as a period of economic problems is misleading?
  6. Is the idea of an underclass useful in understandingWalesin this period?
  7. Did the 1970s, 80s and 90s witness a decline in community?
  8. Can the social and cultural changes of this period be linked to political developments?
  9. Were people happy and happier?

12 Adapt to the future

  1. Is the creation of S4C an important moment in Welsh history?
  2. Was Wales governed in any unique way?
  3. Was the 1980s and 1990s a period of decline or advance for the Welsh language?
  4. Was the 1993 Welsh Language Act a success or failure?
  5. Can we talk of a Welsh language community during this period?
  6. To what extent did English-speaking Wales start to feel more Welsh?
  7. Were the Conservatives an unpopular government? Were they good or bad for Wales?

13 They don’t belong here

  1. Was the impact of second home ownership on rural communities as significant as many felt?
  2. To what extent was language at the heart of rural tensions?
  3. How important is class to understanding rural Wales?
  4. How should the rural economy be characterised in this period?
  5. Can rural Wales be seen as a distinct place in the period since 1970?

14 A nation once again

  1. Why was there a Yes vote in 1997?
  2. To what extent should the referendum be seen as a shift in opinion from 1979?
  3. Can devolution be considered a success?
  4. Did Wales become a more culturally distinct nation after 1999?
  5. How important is globalization to understanding Wales in the early 21st century?
  6. Should the establishment of the National Assembly be regarded as some sort of historical climax for Wales?