Discuss how and why British culture changed so dramatically during the 1960s. Evaluate its influence both within British society and globally.

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Discuss how and why British culture changed so dramatically during the 1960s. Evaluate its influence both within British society and globally.

“The 60s have been described by historians as the ten years having the most significant changes in history. […] The 60s were influenced by the youth of the post-war baby boom – a generation with a fondness for change and far-out gadgets.” The 60s had a big impact on the society in many different areas. It was a decade with many personalities and some important events. To name only a few, there was John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, the first human on the moon, the Beatles, the creation of ARPANET. The whole world was affected by this decade; however, this essay will focus on what happened in Britain and how these changes affected the country itself and the rest of the world.

First of all, a short history of the country is needed to understand better the context in which the changes took place. There was a period when the British Empire was really powerful: it is called the Victorian era. By the end of Victoria's reign, the British Empire extended over about one-fifth of the earth's surface and almost a quarter of the world's population at least theoretically owed allegiance to the 'queen empress'.” However, this could not last forever: the colonies wanted their independence more and more, and this was the beginning of the decline of the British Empire. By the end 1979, almost all the colonies had been declared independent. The two World Wars also influenced on the change of culture that operated in the 60s. These changes did not operate directly at the end of World War 2; it takes time to rise and educate a whole new generation. This post-war generation was mostly responsible for most of the cultural changes that will be mentioned later.

The end of the Second World War marks the beginning of a new generation, and therefore a change in the mentalities. The young people sought for a change: they did not live during the war. During this period of time, many British people develop a strong feeling of racism due to the high immigration rates. “There were anti-black riots in Liverpool (1948), Deptford and Birmingham (1949) and Camden Town (1954), but more commonly, the growing black community was discriminated against in housing, employment opportunities and welfare.” Tony Benn expressed himself about this discrimination and said: "discrimination was rife - you couldn't go into bars without being told: 'We don't serve black people'." One of the reasons that resulted even in a stronger feeling of racism was the economical crisis in Britain and the rest of the world. People were looking for someone to blame, and they immediately blamed the immigrants. These racist movements were not only in Britain, but also in other parts of the world, especially in the United States of America. At the time some riots took place in Britain, Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous I have a dream speech (1963).

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The 1960s also were a turning point for some political achievements: homosexuality and abortion became legal, the capital punishment was abolished, the voting age lowered to 18, and some measures were taken to improve the position of women within society. The last point mentioned did not take place in Britain only: during the war, women had to work while the men were fighting for their country. This led to increasing feminist movements over the country. “The first British women’s right group was formed in Hull in 1968”. This group demanded for the “recognition of an independent sexuality focused on heterosexual activity ...

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