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The Life and Death of the Shopping City
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Book description

How have British cities changed in the years since the Second World War? And what drove this transformation? This innovative new history traces the development of the post-war British city, from the 1940s era of reconstruction, through the rise and fall of modernist urban renewal, up to the present-day crisis of high street retailing and central area economies. Alistair Kefford shows how planners, property developers, councils and retailers worked together to create the modern shopping city, remaking the physical fabric, economy and experience of cities around this retail-driven developmental model. This book also offers a wider social history of mass affluence, showing how cities were transformed to meet the perceived demands of a society of shoppers, and why this effort was felt to be so urgent in an era of urban deindustrialisation. By bringing the story of the shopping city right up to its present-day crisis and collapse, Kefford makes clear how the historical trajectories traced in this book continue powerfully to shape urban Britain today.


‘Kefford’s study is distinctive and provocative in its argument and draws on an unusually rich source-base. The Life and Death of the Shopping City is essential and rewarding reading not just for urban historians, but for historians of business, planning, consumerism and of modern Britain more generally.’

Lawrence Black - University of York

‘Anyone who wants to understand how the shopping city was installed in modern Britain must read Alistair Kefford’s forensic study. His book is a brilliant commentary on how a politics of affluence took hold from the 1940s and its baleful consequences for many towns today.’

Simon Gunn - University of Leicester

‘A major contribution to the study of shopping and developmental urbanism. Kefford makes the vital link between the consumer-driven prosperity of British planning, its alliance with business, and the fantasy of shopping as urban ideal. A masterful account of the shopping city and essential reading in history and urban studies.’

Rosemary Wakeman - Fordham University

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