How far did British society change between, 1939-1975?

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  • How far did British society change between, 1939-1975?
    • Impacts of the Second World War
      • Soldiers
        • American soldiers
          • Arrived in Britain from 1942.
          • The Americans were not class conscious like the British.
          • The American troops were paid much more than the British soldiers.
          • Cultural differences between the USA and Britain.
          • The African  American troops were used to segregation and this was the first time they were treated well by whites.
        • Allied soldiers
          • Commonwealth allies fought with the allies in the Second World War.
          • Large numbers of Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders and Indians.
          • There were 40000 marriages between Canadian servicemen and British women.
          • After the war 120000 Poles settled in Britain.
          • By 1945, there was 402,000 German and 157,000 Italian prisoners of war in Britain.
      • Women in Britain.
        • Working in the Second World War.
          • Most worked in industry or the auxiliary armed forces.
          • In 1941, all women aged 20 or older had to register for war work.
          • By 1945, 80% of married women and 90% of single women were working.
          • By 1943, over 443,000  women worked in the armed forces.
          • Millions of women had to juggle work with their families
        • Attitudes towards women workers during and after the war
          • Much of the work was only available during war time and stopped in 1945.
          • Many of the tasks performed by women were broken down since some men believed that women could only complete simple tasks.
          • The roles women played were not frontline roles they were supportive.
          • After the war many older women continued to work to help British industry recover.
          • In 1947, 18% of married women worked compared to 10% in 1939.
          • In 1945, there was an increase in marriages.
      • Young people during the Second World War
        • Most schools closed down.
        • Many poor children were not evacuated from the cities and therefore had little education.
          • In some areas this led to increased vandalism and crime.
        • Children who were evacuated to the countryside only went to school on a part time basis.
        • The health of young people improved. Evacuees tended to have a better diet in the countryside than the city.
        • Rationing reduced the quantity of food eaten, but it provided a balanced diet for children.
        • Children were split up from their families. This caused them to suffer emotionally
        • Evacuation
          • Most evacuees were not used to rural life and often found themselves in much wealthier households than their own.
          • Many evacuees were separated from their families for up to six years; many were treated well but some were treated badly.
          • Some wealthier people in rural areas tried to avoid taking evacuees.
          • Approx. 50% of children from urban areas were never evacuated at  all, and many children were brought back home because they were homesick.
          • Meeting evacuees from the cities was often the first time middle class families had the opportunity to experience what life was really like for the working class.
    • The Beveridge Report, National Health Service and the Welfare State
      • The Beveridge Report
        • Five giants social evil
          • want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.
        • New principles upon which post war Britain should be built:
          • Universality - all people would be eligible for benefits.
          • A national system of insurance - all workers and employees would pay into a scheme to provide sickness benefit.
          • Family allowance - for children.
          • Healthcare
        • In July 1945, labour party came to power and put in place:
          • Family allowance act, 1945 - an allowance of five shillings per week per child in any family.
          • National insurance act, 1946 - benefits for any worker who was unemployed, injured or sick.
          • National health service act, 1946 (implemented July 1948) - free health care.
          • Town and country planning act and new towns act, 1947 - clearance of slums and bomb damaged housing, and relocation of many of the poorest in Britain's cities to new towns.
          • Children act, 1948 - local authorities forced to set up services to protect children.
          • Housing act, 1949 - massive programme of building new housing to the latest specifications.
      • The National Health Service
        • Introduced on 5 July 1948.
        • The British pubic warmly received the availability of free medical and dental care and demand exceeded all expectations.
        • Between 1948 and 1973, the number of doctors doubled.
        • High quality maternity care became available to women for the first time.
        • The NHS provided other healthcare professionals such as midwives and health visitors.
        • Between 1870 and 1910, the average life expectancy of women in Britain was 45. By 1970, it had risen to 76.
        • Medical inspections carried out by the school nurses improved the health of children.
        • Free child vaccinations significantly reduced death from common diseases.
        • Infant mortality fell from 60,000 deaths of children under five in 1945 to 20,000 deaths by 1975.
    • Immigration into Britain, 1945 - 75
      • Ireland - There had been a large number of Irish settlers since the nineteenth century, but from 1945 to 1960 over 350,000 came to Britain.
      • The Caribbean - By 1960, there were about 125,000 people from the British colonies in the West Indies who had settled in Britain.
      • Eastern Europe - Approximately 200,000 eastern Europeans arrived in Britain in the five years after 1945.
      • Africa - By 1970, there were approximately 70,000 East African Asians who had settled in Britain following political changes in Uganda and Kenya.
      • Indian subcontinent - India had been a key part of the British Empire, but along with Pakistan became independent in 1947. Most immigrants from this region arrived in Britain in the 1960s.
      • South -east Asia - By 1961, there were about 31,000 immigrants from Hong Kong and Malaysia in Britain.
      • Immigrants from the Carribean
        • At the end of the Second World War, Britain was facing a labour shortage.
        • About 10,000 West Indian troops served successfully in the British armed forces  during the Second World War and many saw permanent employment opportunities.
        • Some British companies such as the NHS, London Transport, and the Hotels and Restaurant Association advertised for workers from the Caribbean.
        • Unemployment in Jamaica and the other islands was a major problem. Hurricanes devastated Jamaica in 1944 and in 1951. The tourism was not a major industry, and most earned a poor living from fishing and growing food.
        • There was a long history of West Indian immigration to the USA, but in 1952 citizens of the former empire unrestricted access to Britain.
        • British culture and history was also appealing. The British education system was widely respected and West Indians were impressed by the British empire and success of British industry and commerce.
        • In 1954, 24,000 West Indians arrived in Britain. By 1958, there were 115,000 immigrants from the Caribbean in Britain.
        • Caribbean workers were also attracted to Britain because of the success of previous immigrants. Returning workers were very positive about their experiences of Britain and earned significantly more than those who stayed in Jamaica and the other West Indian islands.
        • Individuals  who were interviewed later explained that whilst most were looking for work, many were also looking for adventure.
      • East Asian immigrants from Africa
        • Most Asian immigrants who had settled in Africa came to Britain because of persecution. Many had become successful businessmen,but when British colonies began to achieve their independence in the 1960s lots of Asian immigrants felt persecuted by new laws. About 20,000 of them came to Britain.
        • In 1972 president Idi Amin in Uganda simply expelled 50,000 Asians, most of whom came to Britain.
      • East Asian immigrants from India and Pakistan
        • Most Pakistani and Indin immigrants came to Britain for economic reasons.
        • The first groups of settlers were Eurasians - educated, middle-class professionals who had intermarried during British rule in India.
        • Many Sikhs from the Punjab region had served in the British Army in India. Employment opportunities in Britain appealed to them. Many also left because of unrest and violence between different groups after Indian independence in 1947.
        • The increasing labour shortage in Britain was filled with other immigrants from India, especially Pakistan. Many of these new immigrants worked in the metal, food and clothing industries, mainly located in the Midlands and north of England.
      • Experiences of immigrants in Britain
        • Decent and affordable housing and accommodation was difficult to obtain.
        • Local authorities required immigrants to live in Britain for five years before they could apply for council housing.
        • Banks and building societies often refused to give immigrants loans or mortgages.
        • Many pubs and bars refused to serve immigrants.
        • Trade unions claimed that immigrants were taking British jobs. In the West Midlands in 1955, transport workers even went on strike complaining about the increasing number of immigrant workers.
      • Reactions to immigration
        • Negative reactions to immigration were widespread and sometimes violent.
        • Violence erupted in Notting Hill, London, in 1958 between white teddy boys and local immigrants.
        • In 1959, the violence became extreme when six white youths murdered an African American immigrant carpenter from Antigua.
      • The contribution of immigrants to British society
    • The changing role of women
      • Work, opportunities and pay
        • In 1951, women made up 31% of the labour force, but this had increased to 38% by 1971.
        • In 1951, 36% of women worked but this increased to 52% by 1971.
        • In 1951, only 26% of married women worked but this has increased to 49% by 1971. This increase was partly due to the removal of the 'marriage bar'.. the unwritten rule that said women should give up their job once married
        • Many female workers were resented by their male colleagues. Women often took lower-paid jobs. Even when women did the same job as men their pay was generally lower.
        • In 1955, the Conservative government agreed to give equal pay to men and women in public sector jobs, such as teachers and civil servants. It was not until 1970, however, that the Equal Pay Act was passed giving equal pay in the private sector, too. The Act was not enforced, however, until 1975. Although a major step forward, the Equal Pay Act did little to help women gain promotions over men.
      • Women in the home
        • At the beginning of the 20th century, nearly 14% of women never married. After 1945, there was a major increase in the numbers of young women getting married and this caused a 'baby boom' between 1950 and 1965.
        • The availability of electricity to power appliances and gas for heating made  home life more comfortable. In addition, technological developments significantly improved the lives of many women. Vacuum cleaners, washing machines and refrigerators made cleaning and shopping easier.
        • Improvements in the home meant that women had more time to take on pat time work or leisure activities. The average number of minutes per day spent on housework fell from 500 in 1950 to 345 in 1975.
      • Changing expectations
        • Between 1950and 1970, there was a significant increase in the number of women's magazines. These magazines offered advice to women and often provided role models to which to aspire.
        • Whilst opportunities for women, particularly in the 1960s, were improving, researchers from this time found that most women still felt pressure to put their husband and children before themselves. Society still expected women to be housewives and women who tried to be different faced opposition and even ridicule.
      • The women's movement
        • there were two groups - the Fawcett society and the Six point group - were very influential and campaigned for equal pay and equal treatment under law.
        • By the mid- to late 1960s, increasing numbers of women had become more radical, joining CND and voicing their dissatisfaction with their role and status in society.
        • Encouraged by feminist writers such as Germaine Greer, who in 1969 published the book 'the female ******'. the women's movement gathered momentum.
        • In 1970, the women's liberation movement was launched at a national conference and made four demands: equal pay, equal education and opportunities,  24 hour nurseries and free contraception and abortion on demand.
      • Contraception, abortion and divorce
        • In 1957, medical researchers produced the first oral contraceptive pill and this was made available on the NHS in 1961. At a stroke 'the pill' transformed the lives of women because they could control how many children they had.
          • After 1965, the birth rate fell dramatically -the average number of children per family fell to two or three from the sic, eight or ten of previous generations.
        • The women's movement also campaigned for legal abortions. In the early 1960s, there were about 200,000 illegal abortions per year in Britain. However, in 1967 the Labour government passed the abortion act.
        • ]in 1969, Parliament passed the divorce act, which allowed a divorce on the grounds that a relationship had broken down, in contrast to the previous requirement to show some type of offence by either the husband or wife
        • In 1970, the matrimonial property act was passed giving women a share of the assets built up during marriage. Before the act, Many women were left in poverty after a divorce.
    • Growing up in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s
      • In the years 1945-55, young people:
        • Were growing up in a country still recovering from six years of war.
        • Had to endure rationing until it was lifted in 1954/.
        • Often  dressed in a similar way to their parents.
        • Mostly had the same set of  pre - war values as their parents and grandparents.
        • Only had l access to one TV channel.
        • Listened to the same type of music as their parents.
      • Changes  in the 1950s
        • Teenagers bagan ro:
          • Wear different clothes to their parents.
          • Spend more time with their friends, meeting in coffee bars and listening to music.
          • Go to the   cinema to watch new Hollywood films.
        • Music and cinema
          • Rock and Roll which had originated from the USA, became very popular in Britain.
          • Record sales and cinema attendance boomed.
          • new role models such as James Dean were very different from the old role models of the 1940s and showed the difference between the new rebel culture and that of their parents generation.
        • Not all the same
          • Whatever the trends, not all teenagers were the same. It often depended on social class, education, race or religion.
      • 1960s: Teenage Britain
        • Money - By the 1960s, most teenagers had more money and were able to spend more than their predecessors in the 1950s. Teenagers became consumers, and record labels, fashion houses and TV companies responded to the new teenage market.
        • Teenage products
          • New, portable radios became available because of developments such as the transistor and better, more lightweight batteries.  This meant that teenagers could listen to music with with their friends rather than their family.
          • Record players became much cheaper in the 1960s meaning many teenagers could have one of their own. The singles sold jumped from 5 million in 1955 to 50 million in 1960.
        • Tv and radio - more programmes for teenagers.
        • Transport and fashion -  more teenagers could travel and go to more fashionable pplace
      • Youth culture in the 1960s
        • Music
          • Small bands of young men wrote songs for people their own age.
          • Groups such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones became instant superstars with millions of fans worldwide.
          • The lyrics and  music was often rebellious and challenged traditional views - for example the Rolling Stones sang about sex and drugs,
          • Huge concerts became fashionable and millions of teenagers watched their favourite groups on shows. The music industry became a big business.
          • Pirate radio stations began broadcasting  popular music in contrast  to the traditional music still played by the BBC. The hugely popular radio Caroline, for example, broadcast the latest records from a ship in the north sea. When it was eventually closed down, the BBC revised their entire radio programming and, in 1967, launched radio 1 to appeal to teenagers.
        • Fashion
          • New young designers, such as Mary Quant, made informal, stylish and lightweight clothes for young people. Quant used young models such as Twiggy to show off her designs, and most notably introduced the mini skirt.
          • The Kings road and Carnaby street became the capital of youth fashion for London and the rest of the world.
          • Photographers, such as David Bailey, and hairdressers,such as Vidal Sassoon, became celebrities who appealed to 1960s youth culture.
        • Rebellion
          • TV shows such as 'That was the week that was' challenged traditional  institutions, such as government and church, with satirical comedy in a way never seen before.
          • New publications such as 'Private eye' which was launched in 1962, poked fun at authority figures.
          • The 1961 stage production off 'West side story' seemed to challenge traditional views about what was good behaviour, despite the fact that it was based on Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet'.
          • Pop stars were regularly criticised for challenging traditional values. In 1966, John Lennon unintentionally upset many people in the USA when he was quoted in an interview as saying that The Beatles were now 'more popular than Jesus'. However upsetting for some, his point was that 1960s popular music was more influential than  a declining church.
          • The 1960s is widely seen as a period of sexual revolution. However, evidence from researchers of the period,, such as Michael Scofield,, shows that teenagers were not as sexually active as is suggested.
          • Rebellion for most teenagers in the 1960s was little more than staying out a little longer than they should or listening to music their parents didn't like
          • Only occasionally did rebellion turn into violence as in 1964 when teenage groups of 'Mods' and 'Rockers' clashed in some British seaside resorts. The press printed hysterical headlines at the time, but recent evidence suggests that there was very little actual violence and generally a lot of chasing around on scooters.
      • Education: the creation of the comprehensive school
        • In he early 1960s children had to sit an 11 plus exam to determine whether they would go to a grammar school or secondary modern schoo
        • In 1965, the Labour government forced local authorities to abolish grammar and secondary modern schools and create new comprehensive schools who took anyone from the local area regardless of their ability.
        • 1145 comprehensive schools were open by 1970.
      • Higher education: universities and polytechnics
        • Thirteen new universities were built during the 1950s and 1960s.
        • 32 new polytechnics were built for students wishing to study more vocational courses in science and technology.
        • Art colleges were established to attract students from poorer middle-class and working-class backgrounds.
        • Grants were introduced to pay living expenses for students from poor backgrounds. The government also paid tuition fees.
      • Teenage and student protest
        • Some young people simply opted out of society and became 'hippies' .Their culture centred on peace, love, communes and usually drugs.
        • Many teenagers also supported the peace movement, which dated back to the late 1950s, and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
        • In 1967, students at the London school of economics demonstrated about the appointment of a new director because he had worked in Rhodesia and therefore was judged to be a supporter of white-only rule there.
        • There were sit-ins at Leicester and Essex universities and students at Hull occupied the university administrative centre in protest at the 'crude qualification that led to money and materialism and poverty'.


Miss E


This is a brilliant overview of the whole 1939-1975 topic with all major points although you will have to read it carefully! A good starting point to make your own summarised mind map or make revision cards from this.



This is fab!



This is great! Particularly useful for a student such as myself.



This is so good, but my computer can't handle it, is there anyway it could be in note form.




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