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This new volume in the publisher's "Development of English Society" series makes no pretense to original research or novelty of interpretation. It is instead a creditable synthesis of such scholars as Asa Briggs. G. D. H. Cole, G. M. Young, and, for a later period, the journalist Anthony Sampson. Miss Roebuck concentrates on the changing class structure of England as it moved from Victorian laissez-fairism to the welfare state, considering such questions as income distribution, real wages, the rise of consumerism, employment patterns and leisure time activities. Her contention - and it's hardly arguable - is that England in the past hundred years has acquired a "much more uniform appearance" as a result of "upward social levelling," particularly evident in the rise of a "new" middle class comprising white collar workers, professionals and people in the service industries. Like most students of English society before her, she points to the impact of the two world wars as the greatest accelerators of social change, citing wartime emergency regulations of industry, food and labor as the precipitants of government intervention in the economy. There is a hesitant note at the end re the postwar "lack of any dynamic new directions in government social planning" - and she's excessively taciturn on the causes, i.e. the continued difficulties of British industry in adjusting to competitive markets and remodeling of obsolescent production techniques. Her style is a pleasant blend of the factual and the speculative and she is not averse to drawing on Rupert Brooke or George Orwell to evoke the less quantifiable side of English social life. Overall the book fulfills its stated intention of providing "background" cogently and compactly. Chiefly for the college classroom. (Kirkus Reviews)
Series: Development of English Society
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Number Of Pages: 218
Published: 18th November 1982
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.6 x 14.0 x 1.4
Weight (kg): 0.45
Edition Number: 2