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How far did the First World War transform key areas of social and economic life in Britain?

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Introduction

Part B How far did the First World War transform key areas of social and economic life in Britain? The First World War changed a lot of things social and economically for Britain. These changes consisted of the diminishing international trade, the woman's role, and changes in political issues and different attitudes to the war. I will show how far Britain's economic and social state changed due to the war, causing negative and positive changes. Britain's international export trade was a problem for Britain as during the war Staple industries relied heavily on exporting; they also relied on old markets such as Russia, the Far East and elsewhere which were closed to them because of the war. Also former customers who where in need of coal, textiles and steel turned to other new suppliers such as America and Japan. The contraction of trades during the war helped reduce the income Britain traditionally derived from shipping, which caused inter-war unemployment. Yet there were still advantages stemming from the war. The productivity of the British industry increased rapidly owing to state-sponsored mechanisation. Also there seemed to be a better standard of the engineering products as well as electric power being used more, because of all the factory work. The distortion of the economy also helped to stimulate industries such as engineering, chemicals, shipbuilding, coal, iron and steel, which had a direct relevance to the armed forces. ...read more.

Middle

As these jobs were just temporary until the men returned, many of the women was dismissed as the fit enough men returned to work. However the work the women did during the war did not go unrecognised, this was to help lead them to something the suffragettes had wanted but failed to get. This was that in 1918, women over the age 30 were given the right to vote and in 1928, this was to change so that all women had equal political rights with men. Now as the women were allowed to work again many things started to change. Women started to do all the things men would have done, such as going to the pubs, dances, theatre and restaurants. Hair and skirts became shorter as a result of factory work, however these things were seen to make things harder. As women took over the running of the country many other things changed. Women were allowed in the police force and they had their very own police service. This service would supervise things at the music halls, dances, cinemas, railway stations and parks. With all the demands of working in factories fashion changed to co-inside with the type of work they would be doing. Long skirts would have got in the way so they would have been shortened and as the First World War finished this was restored. ...read more.

Conclusion

So as I have shown the war did have an effect on social, economic and political aspects of Britain, and not all was for the worst. Such as the women movement, the post-war boom, unemployment staying low, labour coming into power, attitudes changing towards wars and gaining some territory. However the war did cause Britain a great deal of problems. These were financial problems such as the large debts being owned which then caused an inflationary effect. Also Britain's international trade diminished and the loss of many lives's that caused psychological damaged. So in my opinion the First World War was a ' Total War' for Britain. It cost them millions of pounds, a great amount of lives were lost and wasted, and gold reserves were shattered in wartime trading. The war also changed the way in which many people lived and entitled people to many rights, these were mainly for the women of the time. Many things did change due to the war either for better or worse, many things had to change for a chance of success. Britain engaged its resources sensibly but was still stretched to find enough of everything to win. Women played a major role in the war effort and their help back home was just as important as those on the front line. Clearly 1914-1918 saw momentous economic changes. The economy was radically reoriented for the efficient prosecution of the war: there could, therefore, be no easy or quick return to satisfy peacetime needs. Word count- 1855 ...read more.

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