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- Gender, national identities and class allegiance all played major roles in Britain in the period 1900 though the great war and interwar periods to 1939. This makes it difficult and subjective to say that any one was definitively more or less important than another. Thus, I will be making the argument that all three have brought unrest to British society and left lasting impression even past the selected time frame.
- Class is very important in this period because the rise of Marxist, socialist and eventually communist ideology's which were fuelled by Class conflicts in this period as Britain makes the transition from top-down society to social democracy. Class is defined by these ideologies as “the association between work and economy creating the different interests of those who owned and those who worked” (Carnevail & Strange, 2014). This definition is meant to forward the Marxist narrative of a black and white class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. This simple reading can be in part supported by the important class related events of this period such as the 1926 General Strike. The General Strike of 1926 saw between 1.5 and 1.75 million (Ferrall & McNeill, 2015) British workers organised by the Trade Union Congress walk out between May 3rd to May 12th (Ferrall & McNeill, 2015). These strikes proved unsuccessful for many reasons but as Professor Bruley puts it “with stockpiles of coal and no effective method of preventing imports the, dice were heavily loaded against the miners” (Bruley, 2010). Despite this failure however the General Strike proved how the times were changing, which numbers of participants larger than the UK had seen before. However even with such an era defining event such as the General Strike it is important to reflect on the differences between Class and Class conflict in Britain and around the world where simmer actions as the General strike were precursors to revolution, In the UK this was not a reality. Simmerling as this period had the working Class lobbying for better conditions another group in British society were also striving for government to meet their demands.
- Gender also plays a major role as the dates include the peak of the push for woman’s suffrage, both though political means and direct action. This movement in the UK started as early as 1865 but only in the set period is when it really came into public view and when it achieved its goals at least in part. The two most well known groups in this fight were the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies or NUWSS and the splinter group Women’s Social and Political Union or WSPU (Harrison, 1978). As Australian historian Sandra Holton describes the goals of both groups were not necessarily universal suffrage “The aim of the NUWSS was to obtain the parliamentary vote for women ‘on the same terms as it is, or may be granted to men’, a goal that was also adopted by the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU)” (Purvis & Holton, 2000). This is important as it shows the end goals of the groups were nothing more than what the men of the time had unlike in New Zealand for instance and yet the woman’s suffrage movement faced large scale opposition. There were many reasons stated for why women should not have the vote but one of the most prominent was that the vote was seen as the duty of the man of the household and not one of the individuals. This further identifies the separate spheres which were socially present in British culture, as historian Brian Harrison says “But what unites most of these anti-suffragist gestures towards women's emancipation is their compatibility with the Antis' central belief that a separation of spheres between the sexes had been ordained by God and/or by Nature.” (Harrison, 1978). This was seen as a very real challenger to how society functioned and although World War One would change a lot of minds the Representation of the people act of 1918 was very important as it tripled the electorate (UK Parliament). But while Women’s suffrage and the actions of the WSPU were causing alarm in Parliament, it was equally occupied with events in Ireland.
- National identities play an important role in this period as we begin to see colonies expand their autonomy as well as rising tensions in Ireland over Home Rule.
- In conclusion
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