THE 1950s & THE 1960s IN THE UK
I) The 1950s
The 1950s have been defined as a period of affluence which peak in 1959. Indeed, the affluence was both a fact and a feeling. The 1950s witnessed the evolution to what literate, wealthy and liberal, property-owning democracy.
There were significant improvement in living standards and mainly a property owning boom. By the end of the 1950s themiddle classes and also the upper working class began to buy houses but also consumer durables such as cars, TV, washing machines and fridges. All this changed people's life, especially women's life , and later on in the 1960s telephones and holidays abroad were added as well as access to higher education.
Unfortunately, the economy faltered in 1956 – 57 and in 1961-62. In the 1950s, the UK alsohad the feeling of a renewed role in international politics with the beginning of the Cold War and the war in Korea. But the Suez fiasco in 1956 showed the limits of the UK in new international laws. (Suez fiasco was a military mission with france and was cancel by the US).
Although, 20 British colonies in Africa became independent in the early 1960s, following the « Wind of Change » speechpronounced in Capetown in February 1960. There was a feeling that the empire was collapsing and that the UK would soon be a second -rate power (many people in the UK found it difficult to adjust to this new status).
Despite the affluence and the fact that people were living better lives, by the end of 1950s there was evidence of national decline.
The 1950s / 1960s are also called the period of« consensus » because although the conservative party was in power for much of the time, it did not change or dismantle the welfare-state which had been set up by the labour party. Bc the conservatives were aware that the welfare state had led to vast improvements in people lifes and also because when the welfare state had been set up (in 1945), there was the idea that eventually as society movedforward there would be less need for benefits and for social security.
In the 1960s, poverty was rediscovered and the cost of the welfare-state started to increase. The conservative favored more selectivity, and they make a few attempts to limit spending but on the whole there were no fundamental changes untill the 1980s. In fact, it was only with Mrs Thatcher (PM in 1979) that the consensus aboutthe fundamental values of post war british society collapse.
PM between 1964- 1970 was Harold Wilson (labour).
1960s were dominated by a labour government.
The 1960s have also been presented as the end of « Victorianism » (moral values).
1956: first public lottery since the 18th cent was established in the UK (betting).
1960: relaxation of the moral codes (LSD) which hasdominated the UK society since 18th century (Victorianism).
This evolution of society was followed by legislation:
sexual offenses act ( which decriminalized homosexualism)
divorce reform act (made divorce easier also for women)
1968: theatrical censorship abolished (allowed more explicit language on stage).
1964-65: educational system reformed with the introductionof the comprehensive system which was made to abolish the class system at school and to provide equal opportunity to all pupils.
1960s also marked by citizens' rights movements, and feminist movements.
A new liberal society emerges in the 1960s. Many historians have linked it with new domestic inventions, for example the economist in the 1960s quoted 10 years ago the ordinary working womennearly won half of the nation, was a slave in an antiquated kitchen. The economist noted that as women spend more time outside their kitchen, there were replaced by « mechanical slaves », it changed everyday-life but also politics.
Thus all subsequent changes in life style but also in ethics can be linked with this initial big transformation. The change on women houses was accompanied by a...
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