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Outside the Marxist orbit, social historians paid a good deal of attention to labour history as well. Paul Addison notes that in Britain by the s, labour history was "in sharp decline" because "there was no longer much interest in history of the white, male working-class. Instead the 'cultural turn' encouraged historians to explore wartime constructions of gender, race, citizenship and national identity.
The First World War continues to be a theme of major interest to scholars, but the content has changed over time.
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The first studies focused on the military history of the war itself and reached a wide popular audience. In recent decades, attention has turned away from the generals and toward the common soldiers, and away from the Western front and toward the complex involvement in other regions, including the roles of the colonies and dominions of the British Empire. A great deal of attention is devoted to structure of the Army, and debates regarding the mistakes made by the high command typified by the popular slogan lions led by donkeys.
Social history has brought in the home front , especially the roles of women and propaganda. Cultural studies have pointed to the memories and meanings of the war after Arnold J. Toynbee — had two careers, one focused on chronicling and analyzing 20th century diplomatic history. With his prodigious output of papers, articles, speeches and presentations, and numerous books translated into many languages, Toynbee was a widely read and discussed scholar in the s and s.
Professional historians never paid much heed to the second Toynbee, however, and he lost his popular audience as well. He was noted for his conservative interpretation of the past, showing an empire-oriented ideology in defence of hierarchical authority, paternalism, deference, the monarchy, Church, family, nation, status and place. A Tory Democrat, he felt that conservatives possessed more character than other people, as he tried to demonstrate in his books on the history of the Conservative Party.
He acknowledged the necessity of reform—as long as it was gradual, top-down, and grounded not in abstract theory but in an appreciation of English history. Thus he celebrated the reforms of the s. Taylor in praised Feiling's historiography, calling it "Toryism" in contrast to the more common " Whig history ", or liberal historiography, written to show the inevitable progress of mankind.
Taylor explains, "Toryism rests on doubt in human nature; it distrusts improvement, clings to traditional institutions, prefers the past to the future. It is a sentiment rather than a principle. Isaiah Berlin — was a highly respected essayist who explored ideas and philosophy.
Taylor — is best known for his highly controversial reinterpretation of the coming of the Origins of the Second World War He ranged widely over the 19th and 20th centuries. His combination of academic rigour and popular appeal led the historian Richard Overy to describe him as "the Macaulay of our age". Despite Taylor's increasing ambivalence toward appeasement from the late s, which became explicitly evident in his book Origins of the Second World War , Winston Churchill remained another of his heroes. In English History — , Taylor famously concluded his biographical footnote of Churchill with the phrase "the savior of his country".
Carr , who was his favourite historian and a good friend. Hugh Trevor-Roper — was a leading essayist and commentator. He thrived on polemics and debates, covering a wide range of historical topics, but particularly England in the 16th and 17th centuries and Nazi Germany. His essays established his reputation as a scholar who could succinctly define historiographical controversies. In the view of John Kenyon, "some of [Trevor-Roper's] short essays have affected the way we think about the past more than other men's books". By this exacting standard Hugh failed.
Political history has flourished in terms both of biography of major national leaders, and the history of political parties. The post-war consensus is a historians' model of political agreement from to , when newly elected Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher rejected and reversed it. The historians' model of the postwar consensus was most fully developed by Paul Addison. The coalition government during the war, headed by Churchill and Attlee, signed off on a series of white papers that promised Britain a much improved welfare state after the war.
The promises included the national health service, and expansion of education, housing, and a number of welfare programs, as well as the nationalization of some weak industries. It was extended to foreign policy in terms of decolonization as well as support for the Cold War. The model states that from until the arrival of Thatcher in , there was a broad multi-partisan national consensus on social and economic policy, especially regarding the welfare state, nationalized health services, educational reform, a mixed economy, government regulation, Keynesian macroeconomic, policies, and full employment.
Apart from the question of nationalization of some industries, these policies were broadly accepted by the three major parties, as well as by industry, the financial community and the labour movement. Until the s, historians generally agreed on the existence and importance of the consensus. Some historians, such as Ralph Milibrand, expressed disappointment that the consensus was a modest or even conservative package that blocked a fully socialized society.
Furthermore, the Conservatives clung to their pro-business ideals while Labour never renounced socialism. Business history in Britain emerged in the s following the publication of a series of influential company histories and the establishment of the journal Business History  in at the University of Liverpool.
The most influential of these early company histories was Charles Wilson 's History of Unilever , the first volume of which was published in Other examples included Coleman's work on Courtaulds and artificial fibres, Alford on Wills and the tobacco industry, and Barker on Pilkington's and glass manufacture.
Although some work examined the successful industries of the industrial revolution and the role of the key entrepreneurs, in the s scholarly debate in British business history became increasingly focused on economic decline. For economic historians, the loss of British competitive advantage after could at least in part be explained by entrepreneurial failure, prompting further business history research into individual industry and corporate cases. The Lancashire cotton textile industry, which had been the leading take-off sector in the industrial revolution, but which was slow to invest in subsequent technical developments, became an important topic of debate on this subject.
William Lazonick , for example, argued that cotton textile entrepreneurs in Britain failed to develop larger integrated plants on the American model; a conclusion similar to Chandler's synthesis of a number of comparative case studies.
Studies of British business leaders have emphasized how they fit into the class structure, especially their relationship to the aristocracy, and the desire to use their wealth to purchase landed estates and hereditary titles. Other research centres followed, notably at Glasgow and Reading, reflecting an increasing involvement in the discipline by Business and Management School academics. More recent editors of Business History , Geoffrey Jones academic Harvard Business School , Charles Harvey University of Newcastle Business School , John Wilson Liverpool University Management School and Steven Toms Leeds University Business School , have promoted management strategy themes such as networks, family capitalism, corporate governance, human resource management, marketing and brands, and multi-national organisations in their international as well as merely British context.
Employing these new themes has allowed business historians to challenge and adapt the earlier conclusions of Chandler and others about the performance of the British economy. In the s, the academic historiography of the Victorian towns and cities began to flourish in Britain. Historians have always made London the focus.
For example, recent studies of early modern London cover a wide range of topics, including literary and cultural activities, the character of religious life in post-Reformation London; the importance of place and space to the experience of the city; and the question of civic and business morality in an urban environment without the oversight typical of villages. Academics have increasingly studied small towns and cities since the medieval period, as well as the urbanization that attended the industrial revolution.
The historiography on the politics of 18th-century urban England shows the critical role played by towns in politics where they comprised four-fifths of the seats in the House of Commons , as well as the political dominance of London. The studies also show how townspeople promoted social change at the same time as securing long-term political stability.
In the second half of the 19th century, provincial centers such as Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester doubled in size, becoming regional capitals. They were all conurbations that included smaller cities and suburbs in their catchment area. The available scholarly materials are now quite comprehensive. In , Peter Clark of the Urban History Center of the University of Leicester was the general editor and Cambridge University Press the publisher of a page history of British cities and towns in 75 chapters by 90 scholars.
The chapters deal not with biographies of individual cities, but with economic, social or political themes that cities had in common. The theme of deindustrialization has begun to attract the attention of historians. The first wave of scholarship came from activists who were involved in community activism at the time the factories and mines were shutting down the s and s.
Historiography of the United Kingdom
The cultural turn focused attention on the meaning of deindustrialization in the s. A third wave of scholars look at the socio-cultural aspects of how working-class culture changed in the post-industrial age. Historians broadened their scope from the economic causes of decline and resistance to job loss, to its social and cultural long-term effects. Women's history started to emerge in the s against the passive resistance of many established men who had long dismissed it as frivolous, trivial, and "outside the boundaries of history.
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In scholars receive national funding for a collaborative "History of Parliament". Years of energetic research demonstrated a commitment to the new technique of "prosopography", or quantitative collective biography. However, Neale and Namier had sharply different interpretations of the project. Neale looked for definitive quantitative answers to specific technical questions, of the sort suggested by his traditional whiggish view of constitutional development. Namier, on the other hand, took a sociological approach to use the lives of MPs as an entry point to recreate the world of the governing classes.
The editorial board was unable to synthesize the two approaches. Namier's team moved faster through the documents, so much of the work followed his model.
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The Conservative government entered the debate, led by Harold Macmillan and civil servants who wanted a finished product rather than a never-ending project. Namier's ambition was curtailed and, after his death in , his own section was completed by his assistant, John Brooke, in a more restricted format. The history of the state has been conceptualized first as a history of the ruling monarchs, and under Namier the study of individual personalities.
Recently there has been a deeper exploration of the growth of state power. Historians have looked at the long 18th century, from about to , from four fresh perspectives. He brings in such topics as spies, surveillance of Catholics, the Gunpowder Plot led by Guy Fawkes to overthrow the government, and the Poor Laws, and demonstrates similarities to the surveillance society of the 21st century. James Vernon proposes a global history of Britain centered on the rise, demise and reinvention of a liberal political economy that made the market as the central principle of government.
The story features the growth and collapse of the First and Second British Empires, as well as the global hegemony of the Anglosphere. Events, processes and peoples far beyond the Anglosphere shaped the history of its rise, demise and reinvention. This history of Britain is then a global story, not because of that old imperial conceit that Britain made the global map so red, but because the entire world combined to make Britain. Digital history is opening new avenues for research into original sources that were very hard to handle before.
One model is the Eighteenth Century Devon project, completed in It was a collaboration of professional historians, local volunteers, and professional archives that created an online collection of transcripts of 18th-century documents, such as allegiance rolls, Episcopal visitation returns, and freeholder lists. Timeline of British diplomatic history. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Main article: Historians of England in the Middle Ages. Main article: English Reformation. Further information: Historiography of the Poor Laws.
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Further information: List of historians by area of study. Main article: Postwar consensus. Main article: Urban history. Sarah Foot and Chase F.