In 1850 Britain was the most prosperous and industrially advanced country in the wolrd. There were those, including the organizers of the Great Exhibition, who saw no reason why Britain should not maintain her dominance as long as the new advances in scientific knowledge were applied increasingly to all industries and the nation's work force remained industrious.This confidence was not shared by all. Despite material advances, poverty had not
been eliminated; the new industrial processes and the resulting division of labour had made jobs monotonous and, some felt, dehumanizing. The supporters of Ruskin also contended that the use of the
new mechanical techniques debased art by encouraging ornateness at the expense of beauty.The contemporary writings offered in this anthology reflect these concerns and vividly convey a sense of mid-Victorian society and the changes undergone by Britain during these forty years. Culture and Society in Britain 1850-1890 approaches the period through the arts (high and popular), philosophy, religion, and history (social and political), in a way that will appeal to the
general reader as well as to a wide range of students, including those following the Open University Arts Foundation course.This book will be the set reader for the Open University's
Arts Foundation Course from 1987.