The evolution of British public policy through the industrial revolution, the Victorian age and the inter-war years to 1939 is an essential element of British history. It is also a necessary preliminary to the understanding of today's policy choices as they confront governments. It has not previously been viewed as a totality, embodying the economic aspects, both macro and micro, together with social and welfare provision and the patterns of ideas affecting both. Sydney Checkland's treatment, first published in 1983, embraces all these aspects, and is set within the changing configuration of class and politics as the franchise extended. As successive governments responded to these challenges they sought to improve the operation of the market economy and to ease the social pressures that it generated. They had to find an acceptable level of consent to what they were doing; this often involved limiting the choices of individuals and of groups. Of the latter, in large-scale business the trade unions were an increasing problem. Reciprocally these interests tried both to limit the actions of governments as these affected themselves and, indeed, to influence the general course of policy.
Account is taken of the fact that Britain was not one nation, but four, each with its perspective and aspirations. The pattern increases in complexity with the passage of time, so that the discussion of the First World War and the troubled decades of the twenties and thirties comprise the largest section of the book.
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(228mm x 152mm x 25mm)
Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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