Scotland and the sexual revolution c. 1957-1975: religion, intimacy and popular culture

Lynch, Charlie (2019) Scotland and the sexual revolution c. 1957-1975: religion, intimacy and popular culture. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.
Printed Thesis Information:


This thesis examines popular cultural change and intimate life in Lowland Scotland between the late 1950s and the mid-1970s. This period has long been associated by scholars with a ‘sexual revolution’ unfolding across the Western World, yet the nature and extent of this phenomenon in Scotland has remained mysterious.

Using twenty newly conducted oral history interviews, as well as other source material including reportage and commentary, this thesis explores how Scotland’s dominant Presbyterian culture impacted upon young people’s intimate lives, and how its discursive power lessened during the sixties. Through presenting a series of illustrative case studies ranging in focus from the emergence of crisis points at university campuses in the late sixties, to the arrival of a more liberal heterosexual culture amongst young adults in the early seventies, this thesis contributes to our knowledge of post war Scottish society and addresses a large gap in existing scholarship.

It argues that in the early sixties, understandings and experiences of heterosexuality were dominated by Christian discourses. By later in the decade, this moral world was in rapid decline, for it was being undermined by a collapse in the religiosity of young people and changes to popular culture. A heterosexual culture began to emerge which deviated from theology, and which emphasised increased personal autonomy, greater choice in relationships and sex as pleasure rather than duty. Numbers of young, urban people created pressure for access to more liberal lifestyles, and their intimate lives were key to understanding how this change took place. These developments were met by conservative reactions which attempted to re-assert the primacy of the earlier culture and which revealingly drew upon Christian ideas about sex and purity.

Through exploring the cultural contexts of changes and continuity in attitudes and behaviours, and responses to them by institutions, this study provides a fresh perspective on a range of issues including the religious crisis of the sixties, the social effects and implications of cultural innovation and lifestyle change, and the policing and social control of sexualities.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to issues of confidentiality the electronic version of this thesis is not available for viewing.
Keywords: Sexualities, Scotland, religion, heterosexuality, popular culture.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Brown, Professor Callum and Abrams, Professor Lynn
Date of Award: 2019
Embargo Date: 4 June 2024
Depositing User: Dr Charlie Lynch
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-73035
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2019 07:40
Last Modified: 09 Aug 2022 13:55
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.73035

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