Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch had just been published, and the women's liberation movement had realised that emancipation wasn't just a case of securing equal rights and pay, but also of dismantling the idea of defining women by visual stereotypes. The fashion industry was also learning the hard way that women would not wear something merely because they were told to do so. The calf-length midi skirt hadn't been enough to entice women away from the leggy look, and hot pants became de rigueur, even getting the royal seal of approval when they were allowed into the royal enclosure at this year's Ascot races.
The idea that expressions of sexuality could no longer be defined by gender was finding its way into the mainstream with the first screen kiss between two men, in John Schlesinger's film Sunday Bloody Sunday.
Another challenge to the norm was Stanley Kubrick's screen adaptation of Anthony Burgess's novel A Clockwork Orange, which depicted an appalling dystopian future in which delinquent youths amused themselves with rape and murder. Kubrick became so disturbed at the film's potential to incite violence - and for a while, football fans up and down the country adopted the Droogs' bowler-hat look - that he ordered it to be withdrawn from distribution in Britain.
Film violence was played out against a backdrop of the real thing. The Angry Brigade, an anarchist terrorist group, claimed responsibility for a number of incidents, including attacks on the Biba boutique, the Ford Motor Company and the home of Robert Carr, the Secretary of State for Employment.
Photo '98 is a series of national events and exhibitions. For information contact 01484 559888 or www.photo98.com. Current exhibition: 'Brigitte Kraemer: A Stranger in Germany? A document of the lives of immigrant workers and their families in the industrial land of Herne in Germany', is at Wakefield Art Gallery, Wentworth Terrace, Wakefield WF1 3QW (01924 305796).