IN recent years the economic performance of Britain in the inter-war period has proved an attractive subject among economic historians. It is, of course, a particularly convenient period for historical analysis: it begins with the effects of one world war and ends with preparations for a second, even more disastrous, one. And from the viewpoint of social and economic history the most dramatic feature of the period is the persistently high level of unemployment. Indeed, what might be called the traditional view is that these years were overcast with economic depression which brought severe hardship to large sections of the community. This characterisation has its origins in the literature of the period itself. There is, for example, the bleak picture painted by Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) and the social decay and disillusion portrayed in Greenwood’s novel, Love on the Dole (1933). Moreover, such events as the General Strike and the ‘hunger marches’ bear testimony to the degree of social and political tension which existed.
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- The Problem
B. W. E. Alford
- Macmillan Education UK
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