To what extent was the growth of democracy in Britain after 1860 due to social and economic change?
“Parliamentary reform was largely a reflection of changes in the economic and social structure of the country.” (D. G. Wright ‘Democracy and Reform’.)The industrial revolution changed the way people worked, where they lived and how they travelled around the country. In the early nineteenth century Britain could not be described as a democratic country as authority was in the hands of the wealthy men. The government was totally corrupt as the MPs were only interested in what they can get out of the system. It was the social and economic changes which took place in Britain which helped make it more democratic. Britain had experienced a widespread of industrialisation and urbanisation which continued to increase. However there were many other important factors such as changing attitudes to democracy and the role of pressure groups. Political advantage and the impact of the Great War were also crucial factors which contributed to democratic change in Britain. This essay will explore the reasons behind the growth of British democracy.
The industrial revolution changed the way people worked, where they lived and how they travelled around the country and this was at the heart of a changing Britain. The 1832 Reform Act laid the foundations for change and extended the franchise which meant that Britain was now taking account for a changing society and it can be argued that social and economic changes in the early 18th century had been behind this as a driving force.
There were dramatic changes in the British population (demographic change) as more people left rural areas and moved into towns. In fact by the 1850s the population in the towns of England equalled the population in the countryside. Up until 1750 80% of the population worked in the countryside However, industrialisation meant towns/cities grew and by 1850 50% of people lived in cities which increased to 75%...