Ken Mansell’s meticulously-researched and insightful paper examining the emergence of political and cultural radicalism in sixties Melbourne adds significantly to the study of a turbulent decade and the rise of the new social movements. Mansell has drawn upon a vast array of primary source material from the period. A forensically detailed chronological narrative is developed to support an original sociological explanation for the emergence of sixties radicalism.
Mansell takes issue with the conclusions of those authors who explain the sixties revolt as arising from permissive consumerism and the youth culture, and challenges the argument that sustainable protest only began with the impact of the Vietnam war in the later sixties (post-1967).
Mansell’s comparative case studies of both Melbourne and Monash Universities builds a compelling argument that the “generational political consciousness” of sixties cultural and political radicalism, which later culminated in anti-Vietnam War protests, initially emerged in the earlier sixties from the specific subcultures of students and in reaction to the merchandised mass culture.
Mansell’s important essay offers much for those seeking to build a mass student movement countering the rise of the Right.