It has been proposed that the main problem with the British folk revival has also been the source of its initial strength: namely the hypothetical homogenisation of a form of performance history one should associate with a wide variety of socially, politically and culturally heterogeneous processes. Therefore the meaning of folk music that has emerged has been used as a distinctive (but illusory) form or quality of social experience. While presenting this selective history, the author has attempted to argue that while the present folk movement continues to be supremely confident, involving a firm hierarchy of values and supported by an overwhelming consensus, it has marginalised history, music use, performance and reception. By the late 1970s popular music reception had visibly fragmented and the folk scene failed perhaps for the first time since the war to recruit en masse a new generation of followers.