Consider ordinary peoples experiences of the 1930s and evaluate how far it is true to say that Britain was a bitterly divided and unjust society.
The 1930s in Britain for many people was a period of great hardship. The effects of the Great Depression on the United Kingdom varied depending on the area. The 1930’s have been referred to as ‘The Devil’s Decade’, insinuating hardship for everyone involved. However, I would argue that not everyone was having a hard time in Britain in the 1930’s, in fact some were having a better time than ever, meaning Britain as a society was indeed divided.
In the in industrial areas the effect was large because the demand for their ...view middle of the document...
The development of new products based on advances in chemicals, electricals and mechanical engineering, these staple goods commanded a shrinking share of final expenditure. The period of the 1930s saw significant changes on the occupational distribution of the labour force. The process of deindustrialisation was at work; the proportion of the work-force employed in manual labour was declining whilst there was a growth of white collar workers.
During the First World War there was an increase in employment of women, and the First World War accelerated the movement towards employment of women.
some job opportunities in new industries and professions did open up for women through the 1920s and 30s. Following the Education Act of 1918 which raised the school leaving age to 14, women were better educated. The Sex Disqualification Act of 1919 made it somewhat easier for women to go to university and take up professional jobs as teachers, nurses and a few even qualified as doctors. Middle class women benefited from these increased opportunities. During this time women began to get jobs in increasing numbers in the civil service accounting for about a quarter of all such posts by 1935, though these were mostly at clerical and administrative grades rather than the technical and professional jobs which were still dominated by men.
One cause of the increase in the underlying rate of unemployment was the effect of violent oscillations in the trade cycle to which Britain was particularly vulnerable, since a large proportion of Britain's output was traded. After the First World War there was a decline in demand for Britain's traditional products of textiles, iron and steel, coal and shipbuilding.
1931 was a pivotal year for the UK economy. A European financial crisis (failure of German and Austrian banks) threatened to harm the UK’s financial system. More pressingly, the economy was stuck in a deep recession, with unemployment a real problem. The UK’s membership of the gold standard also looked under threat. Many felt the UK was overvalued and so Sterling was under pressure. To keep the value of the Sterling in the gold standard, there was pressure to:
Reduce budget deficit through fiscal consolidation
Increase bank rates to attract money into UK and keep the Pound at its target rate in the gold standard.
In 1931, the government was under great pressure. There was risk of a global financial crisis spilling over into London markets. The Pound was overvalued and there was a fear, the government would be unable to maintain the value of Sterling. The real economy was also in bad shape, with record levels of unemployment and growing social unrest at the extent of the recession.
The rates of economic growth from 1934 onwards look relatively impressive. There was also a significant fall in the unemployment rate from 15% in 1932 to 8% in 1936. However, the great depression...