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BA (Cantab), MSc (Oxon), PhD (Cantab), FRHistS, SFHEA
Mark Roodhouse is Reader in Modern History. He works on the economic and social history of modern Britain, taking a keen interest in black markets, underground economies and the informal sector. He is currently writing a book about organised crime in mid-twentieth-century London. His first book Black Market Britain: 1939-1955, published by Oxford University Press, was shortlisted and awarded Proxime Accessit for the 2013 Royal Historical Society Whitfield Book Prize.
Mark is currently working on his second book project: a history of organised crime in mid-twentieth-century Britain. There has been no detailed research into the history of British organised crime groups, the illegal markets in which they operated, or the underground economy of which these markets formed a part for the period 1920-1970. The project will transform knowledge of these vital topics. Focusing on the London underworld, Mark aims to chart the development of illegal markets, assess the part organised crime played in these markets, and evaluate the importance of these markets to the wider economy. The project has been made possible through the award of a Leverhulme Research Fellowship.
Mark stumbled across the topic 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.
Recent PhD students
Mark is a member of several learned societies and has served on the Economic History Society Council and the Social History Society Committee since 2019. He reviews research applications for academic funders, book proposals for academic and trade publishers, and articles for academic journals. He is also an experienced external examiner who currently externals the Politics and Contemporary History MA at King’s College London and Part I of the Historical Tripos at the University of Cambridge. As a member of the History & Policy network, Mark has contributed to debates about environmental, food, and criminal justice policies, providing advice to government departments and submitting evidence to Parliamentary enquiries. He has contributed to many television documentaries and radio programmes including A House Through Time, and advised on film and television dramas including All Creatures Great and Small
Spring term 2023
In-person drop in, no appointment needed.