Broadcasting Britishness during the Second World War: Radio and the British World

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Abstract

This essay considers how radio broadcasting appealed to and reinforced Britannic sentiment during the Second World War. Radio utilised this sentimental appeal to help mobilise a united imperial war effort. Radio played on the bonds of sentiment in a particularly powerful fashion, because it addressed listeners intimately and with a sense of authenticity. It also allowed rapid, regular, and direct communication with audiences over long distances. Imperial broadcasting structures established during the 1920s and 1930s were repurposed for war, under the leadership of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The cooperation of broadcasters (and state information and propaganda agencies) all around the British world was also crucial. Many different producers, writers, artists, and experts helped broadcast Britishness during this period, appealing to Britannic sentiment in a wide variety of ways. Often they linked Britishness with liberty, democracy, and equality, even if this bore little relation to the realities of empire. The British connection was presented as a living and vital force, bringing people together despite their differences. Broadcasters also made a powerful appeal to ideas about a common history and set of traditions. The essay suggests that such themes offered a powerful means of harnessing Britannic sentiment to the needs of war.
Translated title of the contributionBroadcasting Britishness during the Second World War: Radio and the British World
Original languageOther
Title of host publicationBuriteisshu warudo
Subtitle of host publicationTeikokuchutai no shoso
EditorsMahito Takeuchi
Place of PublicationTokyo
PublisherNihon Keizai Hyoron Sha
Pages229-260
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2019

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