Stephen Moorbath: loosening of class divisions in the earth sciences

Stephen Moorbath remembers loosening of class divisions in the earth sciences in the 1960s.

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Could I ask now about the culture of specifically British science that you faced in the late ‘50s.

With hindsight it seems less important than it was at that time. From my own point of view I – the way I’d worked my way through the – through the ranks I always came up across – across British class – the British class system, from the earliest times it was obvious that it was something that really kept this country going. How different types of people, even working in the same place reacted to each other, and I think with this business of – with the geology – during the first half of the 20th century quite a large part of geology had become very entrenched into a kind of … you know, you either did this branch or you did that or you did – worked on fossils or on minerals or this or that or that, and they didn’t interact very much. So that in a [clock chiming] department an igneous geologist wouldn’t talk to a pal – palaeontologist or to a – to stratigrapher or some – any, you know, everybody was doing their own little thing and nothing brought it together. That’s really the basis of the system which fitted in so well with the British class system in a way, so that when the great opening up of the Earth sciences occurred that was such a tremendous cultural – it brought people together it was only during that time that the whole social framework of British science, the way people acted together, technicians and students and teachers, that they all got together but the whole thing became a bit more informal, so that was part of the general social easing up of the British system and that fitted rather well with the way that the Earth sciences were opening up.
  • Interviewee Stephen Moorbath
  • Duration 00:02:35
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Paul Merchant
  • Date of interview 12/10/2010
  • Shelfmark C1379/36

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