From the ‘masher’, ‘dude’ and ‘dudine’ of the nineteenth century, to the ‘flapper’, ‘bodgie’ and ‘widgie’ of the twentieth, the history of New Zealand’s young people evokes a colourful cast of characters. This cultural history project investigates the changing nature of New Zealanders’ ‘transition to adulthood’ between 1800 and the 1970s.
Teenagers: The Rise of Youth Culture in New Zealand, published in 2017, traced the development of young people’s cultures in the context of broader social, economic and moral changes both in New Zealand and internationally. It offered a young person’s take on a series of debates in our historiography. Was New Zealand a ‘tight society’ from the late nineteenth century on? Were the 1950s a decade of deep conservatism or a time of significant social change? How did technology make an impact on everyday lives? To what extent did gendered experiences come together or move apart?
Since the publication of Teenagers, further, small-scale publications have examined other elements of young people’s experiences. One piece pays closer attention to the continuing growth of youth culture during the 1960s, and another examines homoeroticism among young people before 1950.