in Horseracing and the British 1919–39

Racing was one of Britain's leading national sports, and the media gave it more prominence. The study of racing also adds a vital dimension to debates amongst historians about the extent of social harmony, the political and social predominance of conservatism, the construction of gender identities, national sentiment, and the relationship between the economy and sport. Racing was a socially ranked and ordered microsociety that made clear to individuals their place in the social hierarchy. The chapter demonstrates the strength of British cultural conformity and cohesion. Betting had become commonplace to the extent that it provided a compelling world of alternative loyalties to class and politics and drew people together, not against capitalism, the establishment, but against the bookie. Cash betting was an integral part of a working-class identity that helped to define that class. Interest in racing was a key part of working-class sociability, at work, at home or in the pub.


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