The social-scientific imagination : Muriel Spark's The Ballad of Peckham Rye

Bernstein, Sarah (2019) The social-scientific imagination : Muriel Spark's The Ballad of Peckham Rye. MFS Modern Fiction Studies. ISSN 0026-7724 (In Press)

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Abstract

This article concentrates on Muriel Spark’s The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960) and its indirect and mediated representation of the welfare state in the form of a ‘social-scientific imagination’, manifested in both cultural ideology and literary form. The ‘social-scientific imagination’ describes the textual engagement of Spark’s novel with the language and technique of newly professionalised social-scientific disciplines, in particular with new sociological studies of working life. In its representation of a shift in official modes of organising the social body, Spark's novel prefigures the ideological undermining of the welfare state through the invocation of individual responsibility and anti-bureaucratization.