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Post-1945, Britain quickly

relinquished its status as the world's
largest imperial power, but it was
the massive cultural and social
changes at home that truly
transformed British society.
Drivers for change:
0 Major growth in population, matched by rapidly rising
expectations about lifestyle.
0 Life expectancy has risen greatly while the birth rate has
remained static. Therefore the average age has risen.
0 Large-scale immigration has made the population ethnically far
more diverse, with important cultural consequences.
0 The moral and cultural code that prevailed from late Victorian
times onwards broke down, a process formalised by legal
changes in the 1960s.
0 Manufacturing decline was matched by the rise in the service
sector, resulting in a major change in the experience of work.
0 This rise was linked to a growth in consumerism that also owed
something to an extension of borrowing to more of the
Areas for enquiry:
0Moral codes

0End of empire

0Domestic policies

Moral codes: womens rights
0 The Abortion act 1967 legalises abortion on certain
grounds. Free provision through the NHS.
0 In 1961 the contraceptive pill is made free on the NHS to
older women with children who did not want more. Rom
1974 it could be prescribed to single women without
Moral codes: homosexuality
0 In the early 1950s, the police actively enforced laws prohibiting
sexual behaviour between men. This policy led to a number of high-
profile arrests and trials. One of those involved the noted scientist,
mathematician, and war-time code-breaker Alan Turing (1912
1954), convicted in 1952 of "gross indecency".
0 Report of the Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and
Prostitution (better known as the Wolfenden Report) was published
in 1957. It and recommended that "homosexual behaviour between
consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence",
finding that "homosexuality cannot legitimately be regarded as a
disease, because in many cases it is the only symptom and is
compatible with full mental health in other respects."
0 The Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalised homosexual acts in
private in England and Wales between two men both over the age of
21. In Scottish law decriminalisation happens in 1980 and in
Northern Ireland only in 1982.
0 The age of consent of 21 for homosexual males set by the 1967 Act
was reduced to 18 by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
and to 16 by the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000.
Moral codes: religion
0 The period sees significant shifts in religious practice. By
the 1990s, only one in seven Britons was an active member
of a Christian church, although more claimed to be
0 At its peak in 1967, about 68% of infants were baptised,
falling to 20% by 2000.
0 In contrast, in 1970 there were about 375,000 Hindus,
Muslims and Sikhs in Britain. By 1993 the figure was about
1,620,000, with the rise in the number of Muslims being
particularly pronounced.
0 Multicultural Britain is still religious, but not necessarily
End of empire, beginning of
0 In 1945, Britain still had the largest empire in the world. Its last
gasp was the Suez crisis of 1956 (second Arab-Israeli war) which
brought down the British Prime Minister Anthony Eden.
0 Independence from Britain began for India and Pakistan in 1947.
The whole empire had largely been granted independence by
0 In the 1950s, large numbers of people from the Carribbean
arrived in the UK, invited by the Government to help with re-
building post-War Britain. They were often not welcomed locally
and accommodation was particularly difficult to find.
End of empire
0 Fragments of empire remained . A controversial war
was fought with Argentina in 1982 when the latter
attacked the Falkland Islands, a colony inhabited by
British settlers since 1833.
0 Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) only became independent in
the 1980s.
0 The most populous of Britain's remaining colonies,
Hong Kong, was only handed over to China in 1997.
0 The Northern Ireland conflict of the 70s-90s could be
considered to result from unsuccessful decolonisation
in the early 20th century.
Northern Ireland
0 Troops were deployed in Northern Ireland from 1969
until the 1990s in response to an outbreak of violence
between Catholic and Protestant community.
0 The IRA were the major terrorist threat in Britain in
this period.
0 The conflict had its roots in the partition of Ireland in
the early twentieth century, and can be seen as a
colonial conflict.
Northern Ireland Troubles
0 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/81943
Domestic policies
0 Entry into the European Economic Community (EEC) - later European Union
(EU) in 1973 led to a marked erosion of national sovereignty and to a
transfer of powers to Europe.
0 At the national level, government was controlled by the Labour Party (1945 -
1951, 1964 - 1970, 1974 - 1979 and 1997 onwards) and its Conservative
rival (1951 - 1964, 1970 - 1974, 1979 - 1997), with no coalition ministries.
0 These two parties shared major overlaps in policy throughout the post-war
period, for example in maintaining free health care at the point of delivery -
the basis of the National Health Service.
0 But there were also major contrasts, particularly between 1979 and 1990
when Margaret Thatcher held power as the country's first female prime
0 The Conservatives tended to favour individual liberties and low taxation,
while Labour preferred collectivist solutions and were therefore happier to
advocate a major role for the state.
0 This was particularly evident in Labour 's support for the nationalisation of
major parts of the economy during their pre-1979 governments. Most, in
turn, were denationalised again under the Conservatives between 1979 and
Manufacturing and the economy
0 There was a marked relative decline of the British economy during
the post-war period, which was particularly pronounced in the field
of manufacturing.
0 Manufacturing decline was matched by the rise in the service sector,
resulting in a major change for many in the experience of work.
0 This rise was linked to a growth in consumerism that also owed
something to an extension of borrowing to more of the population.
0 After the oil crisis of 1973, there was a sense of national malaise in
the 1970s, which also owed much to very high inflation and to a
sense that the country had become ungovernable.
0 During 1974-5, strikes by coal-miners whose pay had been capped
despite high inflation led to the three-day week to conserve
0 During the very cold winter of 1978-9, local authority trade unions
went on strike over pay because the Labour government sought
control inflation by freezing pay rises. Gravediggers, rubbish
removals, lorry drivers all went on strike causing serious problems.
Winter of discontent, 1978
Find out more:
Books :
0 Britain since the Seventies by Jeremy Black (Reaktion
Books, 2004)
0 British Economic Development since 1945 by Alan Booth
(Manchester University Press, 1995)
0 Religion in Britain Since 1945: Believing Without Belonging
by Grace Davie (Blackwell Publishers, 1994)
0 British Society Since 1945: The Penguin Social History of
Britain by Arthur Marwick (Penguin Books Ltd, 2003)
0 The European Question and the National Interest by Jeremy
Black (Social Affairs Unit, 2006)