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  • Life expectancy improved - improved medicine,  healthcare and nutrition led to a fall in the death rate - people were living a lot longer
  • The 'baby boom' of the period 1955-65 helped to increase the population- as did an improvement in infant mortality
  • There was a wave of immigration from (a) Southern Ireland (b) the Caribbean (c) the New Commonwealth eg India, Pakistan. They were attracted by British prosperity and the availability of jobs and security of employment. This began to change the ethnic and racial makeup of the population.
  • But in this period this was countered by more people actually leaving to emigrate to places like the Old Commonwealth, Canada, Rhodesia. Eg in 1950s 676,000 came in, 1.3 million left. Net migration was negative until the 1980s.
  • There was increased 'geographical mobility' as people no longer remained in the town or village where they were born caused by (a) the creation of new jobs and opportunities which made it essential for people to move to 'where the work is' - often from the North with its traditional industries to the new occupations in the  South (b) the increase in mobility brought about by developments in transport- the new motorway system eh the first motorway the M1 was started in 1958 followed by the M6
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Social Tensions 1951-64


  • ImmigrationOverall nearly 1/4 million new immigrants arrived (Carribean/India). In Nottingham, white youths began attacking black immigrants usually at night. 
  • Rising crime ratea dramatic rise to 18.5% by 1960 and 28% by 1965, Conservative thinkers linked this to the increasing rebelliousness of the generation growing up at this time 
  • Youth culture and social disorder - 1950's Teddy's Boys, working class boys who formed gangs and rebelled against traditional ideas. 1960's Mods and Rockers, who liked soul music, regularly fought each other in Brighton.
  • The decline and deference of class - The increasing rebelliousness of youth - the rise of a to social groups like the teddy boys, mods, rockers who deliberately challenged authority and traditional values and showed the independence of youth for the first time. Rigid class barriers were beginning to weaken in the late 50s and 60s e.g. Robbins Report built new uni's
  • The Secondary Education debateHardly any technical schools were created. The majority went to Secondary Moderns and the minority went to the Grammar Schools. Those who made it to the Grammar Schools were mostly middle class and those who went to the Secondary Moderns were almost entirely working class who even sat different exams
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Lack of social change 1951-64

  • The so called breakdown of  post war social harmony which has been lamented by New Right Conservatives was a 'moral panic' brought about by fear of change itself.(a)The rising crime rate was still low historically - the exception was the early 1950s. (b) the panic caused by the disorder of new youth groups was not a sign of social collapse but instead the product of an affluent consumer society where even young people now had the wealth and choices to adopt diverse  lifestyles - a sign of social change but not social breakdown.
  • The decline if class and deference has been exaggerated -  The Universities were still dominated by the upper and middle class's and the grammars were still dominated by the middle classes. 
  • Most media output and films still reflected the traditional class structure and values of traditional British society and harped on wartime stories of glory and sacrifice eg movies like the Dam Busters.
  • So some have concluded that social conservatives who were alarmed by the changes in society over emphasised the degree of change and created a 'moral panic' to reflect their fears  - this was amplified by the media and especially the press who sensationalised issues like youth violence which were relatively insignificant. 
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Social tension 1964-75

  • Population - the population grew from 53 million to 56 million. It was fast in the optimistic and prosperous 60s and then did not grow hardly at all in the depressed and difficult 1970s.
  • Immigration - the numbers of immigrants from the New Commonwealth increased creating a new multi ethnic society - eg between 1951 and 71 the number if West Indians in GB went up by 20x, the number of Indians and Pakistanis by 12x and tended to create ghettos.
  • Youth and rebellion - University students also began to rebel and protest - often the focus was antagonism towards the Vietnam War - they organised demonstrations and sits ins
  • Industrial disputes - The immediate cause was often issues such as pay and conditions- the underlying cause was that Britain was beginning to move away from traditional industrial occupations such as coal mining, shipbuilding and steel making. The climax was Heaths 3 day week which was caused by strikes by the engineers and dockers and coal - Britain was hit by fuel rationing, electricity cuts and lay offs.
  • Environmentalism and pressure groups - In the 1950s CND (Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament) was formed to campaign to get GB to abandon its nuclear weapons programme. Friends of the Earth was created in 1971  
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Social tension 1975-1990

  • Immigration - It continued to increase- the Indian population more than doubled to 840,000 and the Pakistani population quadrupled- and the was a new surge if Bangladeshi immigration increasing their numbers to over 150,000 and settling in new areas such as Brick Lane
  • The impact of Thatcher economy - Her focus on private industry anger those who worked in the Public Sector such as teachers and nurses and there were teachers strikes in the 1980s for the first time. Housing Act of 1980 which gave council tenants the 'right to buy' their homes created a new property owning and mortgage paying society - by 1988 2 million had bought their houses and taken on mortgages instead of paying rent.
  • The impact of Thatcher industry - trade union membership declined by 1/3 and the power of the working class unions was broken. This led the way for the decline and closure of many working class occupations like coal mining+ship building with over 3 mil unemployed.
  • The Miners strike - now supplying only 20% of Britain's energy. It caused bitter confrontations with the police eg the Battle of Orgreave where 5000 of Scargills miners tried to close the Orgreave coke plant and they were confronted by 8000 police who kept the plant open in solute of violent clashes which led 50 miners injured, 70 police and many arrests.
  • New protest movements - the Church blamed Thatcher for N/S divide, the poll tax riots involved 1/4 million, 5000 were injured  and property was smashed and set on fire
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