Playboys in Paradise: Masculinity, Youth and Leisure-Style in Modern America / Edition 1

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Post-war America was an exciting time. It was an age characterized by backyard barbecues and beach parties, mai-tai cocktails and Ford Mustangs, high school hops, Hawaiian shirts and Hugh Hefner's -Playboy- empire. This book charts middle-class America's move towards an ethos of conspicuous consumption and sexual license during the fifties and sixties.

Focusing on two of the period's most visible icons-the swinging bachelor and the vibrant teenager-this book looks at the interconnected changes that took place for American youth culture and masculinity as consumption and leisure established themselves as the dominant features of middle-class life. The author draws on a wide variety of popular examples-men's magazines, fashion and style, books, film and music-to argue that the bachelor and the teenager were complementary and interrelated stereotypes that shaped America's youth. Magazines which as Esquire and Playboy, and bands like the Beach Boys, framed and shaped a new meaning of the young American male that contrasted sharply with previous values of sobriety and moderation. This book discusses the images and icons that shaped masculinity in particular. By focusing on the changes both in masculine identity and in the form and representation of youth culture, American life is looked at from a fresh and innovative perspective.

Author Biography: Bill Osgerby is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies, University of North London.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice Magazine
Osgerby has written a provocative account of the changing descriptions of masculinity in US culture from the late 19th century to the present...With interesting material drawn from popular culture, Osgerby shows that middle-class descriptors of strong masculinity have yielded through the decades to acquistional, hedonistic descriptors for the masculine ideal... The provocative heart of the book asks what model the young male has had in the past in his search for masculinity, and what he will perhaps emulate in the future.
From the Publisher
"Osgerby ... has written a provocative account of the changing descriptions of masculinity in US culture from the late 19th century to the present." —Choice
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859734537
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 2/28/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill Osgerby is a Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies, at the University of North London.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures
Preface and Acknowledgements
1 Introduction: Young Men of Action and Acquisition 1
2 'This Side of Paradise': the Emergence of the Man of Style 17
3 Lessons in 'The Art of Living': the 'Playboy Ethic' Takes Shape 39
4 'People of Plenty': Constructions of Masculinity in the Promised Land 61
5 'The Old Ways Will Not Do': Youth, Consumption and Postwar Leisure-Style 87
6 High-Living with the 'Upbeat Generation': the Cultural Currency of Playboy 121
7 Bachelors in Paradise: Masculine Hedonism Comes of Age 149
8 'Turn On. Tune In. Step Out': Counterculture, Nonconformity and the Masculine Consumer 179
9 Conclusion: Cultures of Narcissism 199
Bibliography 205
Index 223
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