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BA (Cantab), MSc (Oxon), PhD (Cantab), FRHistS
Mark Roodhouse is a Senior Lecturer in History and Chair of the Board of Studies. He works on the economic and social history of modern Britain. He is currently writing his second book about organised crime in mid-twentieth-century Britain. His first book is Black Market Britain: 1939-1955, published by Oxford University Press.
Mark was educated at Cambridge and Oxford before coming to York. He is a director of the Centre for Historical Economics and Related Research, editor of the Borthwick Papers and a member of the History and Policy network. He has also refereed articles and reviewed books for several academic journals.
Mark is currently writing his second book on the history of organised crime in mid-twentieth-century Britain. This explores the interaction between the law-and-order bureaucracy’s dark imaginings and the activities of criminal entrepreneurs. Through a micro-history of a failed black market sting operation, the project reveals the interplay between the representation and reality of organised crime before ‘celebrity’ gangsters like Billy Hill, Jack ‘Spot’ Comer and the Messina brothers entered the limelight in the 1950s.
Mark stumbled across the case when writing his first book Black Market Britain: 1939-1955. In the book, he argues that illegal markets did not pose a serious threat to rationing and price control because of Britons’ self-restraint. The means, motives, and opportunities for evasion were not lacking. The shortages were real, regulations were not watertight, and enforcement was haphazard. Fairness, not patriotism and respect for the law, is the key to understanding this self-restraint. By invoking popular notions of a fair price, a fair profit, and a fair share, government rhetoric limited black marketeering as would-be evaders had to justify their offences both to themselves and others.
Black Market Britain underlines the importance of fairness to those seeking a richer understanding of economic life in modern Britain and its vital role in securing compliance with economic regulation. Mark has shared these findings with the general public through his contributions to television programmes like Wartime Farm and The One Show as well radio programmes like Broadcasting House.
Drawing on his work, Mark has contributed to ongoing debates about climate change, producing a policy paper evaluating carbon rationing proposals in the light of historical experience, writing an op-ed for the Financial Times and submitting written evidence to a parliamentary committee. These interventions attracted national and international press coverage.
Mark welcomes proposals to work on any area of British history since 1914.
Current PhD students
Current MA by Research students