First War Affect British Society

Topics: World War I, Labour Party, British Empire Pages: 5 (1783 words) Published: March 10, 2013
The First World War, which was a global war centered in Europe, began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. Britain went to war in August 1914 and lasted more than four years. British casualties totaled almost 2.5 million, which included over 700,000 killed (Johnson, 1994: 151). After the war, there was a problem about how far the war actually brought to Britain, which means how did the war affected Britain social by several changes is generally debated by people. As Dewey (1997: 45) said, the social, economic and political consequences of the war must be considered. On the whole, the First World War significantly affected Britain in internal legacy and external legacy. Specifically, the internal legacy including economic cost in war, the accelerated rate of depreciation of both industrial and commercial property, the altered position of the Labour Party and the decline of fertility was accelerated by war, while the external legacy including millions of deaths from war, the enormous changes of Britain in the international position and the balance of payments surplus in Britain was disappeared (Dewey, 1997: 46). The First World War made a very significant and lasting effect on British society, this essay is going to describe the most significant consequences brought by the war, and to demonstrate this assertion. Firstly, it will examine the economy by using mass unemployment and national debts as examples. Secondly, the social influences will be discussed from a factor, which is the effect given by the First World War to British women. Thirdly, the following essay will examine the changes of the Labour Party due to the First World War.

The first consequence, which was caused by the First World War, is about the economy of Britain in the interwar period. Having kinds of sections in economic effects, the following essay is going to discuss the unemployment and the change of position between creditor and debtor in Britain after the First World War. As Jones (1984: 385) said, most people regard the years between the two world wars as years of economic gloom and this view is because of the persistent mass unemployment. The most effective reason is that factories in Britain suffered less overseas market demand. As one of the evidences, Britain came to rule the world economy in heavy industry during the period from 1880 to 1914, which supplied over a third of the ships allover the world and exporting a large number of coal (Brown et al, 2010: 339). Comparing to the pre-war period, the First World War led to Britain's trading position weakening, and colonies developed their own industries at the same time, as a result, British products fell dramatically in overseas markets (Brown et al, 2010: 453), and more countries began to produce for themselves to protect their local market instead of buying products from Britain (Johnson, 1994: 174). This means that workers were faced with mass unemployment because of the decreased quantities about exports. Therefore, according to Johnson (1994: 161), the number of unemployed workers reached a peak with approximately 1.1 million in April 1919. Furthermore, the international economy was much weaker than it had been before the First World War, and the trade just maintained the level of 1913 in1925 (Johnson, 1994: 173). The slow growth of global economy influenced British economy, as a result, workers were difficult to found jobs at the same time because of the general economic stagnation. In addition, experiencing unemployment, death rates in unemployed families were much higher, unemployment had led to a worsening in the health of both mothers and wives in families, and the incidence of children’s diseases had an increasing trend (Johnson, 1994: 214). The unemployment affected people not only the physical health, but also the psychological health. As Johnson (1994: 217) said, workers might become pessimistic, anxious and depress when all efforts fail in finding jobs, then they...
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