HISTORY

HIST-437
British Studies (3)

Course Level: Undergraduate

Topics vary by section, may be repeated for credit with different topic. Rotating topics including Hanoverian England, Victorian England, Edwardian England, the British Empire, the British working class, and popular culture in modern Britain. Meets with HIST-637.

HIST-437
001
HISTORY
FALL 2015

Course Level: Undergraduate

British Studies (3)

Labor and Politics in Britain

In the nearly two and a half centuries since the industrial revolution, British society has undergone a series of profound changes, few of which could have been foreseen by a mid-eighteenth century observer. Britain has gone from being a predominantly agricultural society to one of the most urbanized countries in the world. Industry took off in the Victorian era, for a time making Britain the "workshop of the world," only to decline in the second half of the twentieth century, as the UK, like the US, transition into a post-industrial society. In stages, more and more British men, and later women, were given the vote, until in 1928 the country could claim to be a true mass democracy. The granting of the vote to working-class men was both a consequence of and a spur to changes in British political culture, as "the masses" abandoned rioting and looting in favor of organized protesting and lobbying. The commitment of the broad sector of the British public to working through the existing political order, both allowed the working classes to achieve great concessions from the state, and limited the revolutionary potential of organized labor. This course explores the evolution of working-class politics from the late-eighteenth through the early twentieth-first centuries, and ends by asking: Now that the ranks of organized labor in Britain have thinned to nineteenth-century levels, and the Labour Party has ceased to see itself as the voice of the unionized working classes, what's left of the left? Meets with HIST-637 001.