‘The immediate post-war years were depicted as an era of social stability of secure functioning institutions, full employment, benign welfare state and trusted systems of expert knowledge. ‘ How far do you agree with this claim as an accurate picture of the UK after the Second World War? Did things change towards the end of the 20th century? Illustrate your answer with reference to at least three blocks of DD100 (1624) This question is really asking us to investigate one of the three main course themes, that of uncertainty and diversity.The theme has a common sense narrative element that leads us to believe that there was a post war “golden age” where as the quote implies there was a predictability and stability in our culture. We had trust in the social structures of work, family, expert political, religious and medical knowledge. This story then goes on to tell us about how in the later years of the twentieth century most aspects of our lives have become more diverse. We have more choices than we did in the golden years but at the expense of stability and predictability.I intend to test this claim against three areas from the DD100 blocks: Nationalism from Block One, Work and welfare from Block 3 and Expert Knowledge, in the form of medical knowledge, from Block 2.
Firstly let’s look at the changing role of nationalism since the 40’s. Recent times have shown a great change in the meaning of Britain and British ness. On one hand we have joined the larger European community but on the other Britain is being devolved with greater independence for Wales and Scotland.In this essay we will look at the change in Scottish politics since the 40’s to focus on the changing role of nationalism and the new choices and uncertainties that we now face e. g.
are we British, Scottish, English or Europeans? The SNP was set up in 1934, but was only a marginal force until the recession of the late 80’s which had a stronger and longer lasting effect in the North than the South. (Guibernaau and Goldblatt P.144) This and the declining numbers of Scottish politicians in Westminster and the unpopular poll tax being introduced first in Scotland all led to a growing North, South divide and growing dissatisfaction with Westminster by the Scottish. This led to a separate Scottish Parliament being set up at the end of the twentieth century.
This change in British culture clearly shows a greater amount of uncertainty and diversity than we had in the immediate post war years. The strong structure of the British Empire has been crumbled.This has allowed many of us more choice about how we define our national identity. However especially for the English it has caused more uncertainty, many are now unsure what it means to be English, since in this multicultural age it can not be ethnically driven. Many of the defining characteristics of the English Aristocracy have been eroded, and there are few purely English structures to cling to. Recently the media have used Sport to define Englishness with fans gathering under the flag of St George. However this definition of Englishness is shallow at best and tends to be predominantly male.(p.
146 -151) Although this would seem to agree completely with the quote from the question (that there has been a break with the strong structures of the post war years to an uncertain time at the end of the twentieth century) it is of note that the SNP didn’t form at the end of the twentieth century but in 1934 and had some rural support all through the so called “golden age” indicating the sense of British ness was not as certain for everybody. When the National Health Service was established in 1945, it was the belief that the “medical model” could address almost all illnesses.(Smith and Goldblatt, p. 53) A person would go to their doctor and trust the advice given by that doctor.
Then in 1980 the Black report and “The Health divide” in 1992 (p. 53) found that illness was disproportionately spread and that those with poor social conditions were more likely to suffer form bad health. This led to the development of the “social model of medical health” (p. 56) which attributes ill health more with a person’s conditions for example adequate housing and heating etc.
Since approximately the 70’s there has been a growing respectability for alternative and complementary therapies such as colour therapy, homeopathy and acupuncture. (p. 58) The biggest change form the certainties of the 40’s probably came with the change in public policy in 1976 with the shift of responsibility form experts to the individual with the 1976 document “Prevention of Health: Everybody’s business” (p. 63). This approach is more about promoting healthy lifestyles such as exercise, and not smoking, not to cure bad health but to promote good.