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Shift in Social Roles for Women in 19th and 20th Century England

This research will examine the changing status of women in Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The research will set forth the context in which the significant shift in the social roles and social perceptions of British women emerged and then discuss the factors of Western culture that encouraged or limited optimal development as women might have preferred.

Nineteenth-century Britain seems to have been positioned technically, culturally, and geopolitically for wholesale social reconfiguration, though the fact that the processes of such reconfiguration would persist until the end of the twentieth century could hardly have been predicted. If at the start of the century there was national embarrassment at having lost the American colonies--once in 1783 after the Revolution and again in 1812 in the aftermath of only partly successful impressment raids at sea and attacks on the White House and along the American coastal frontier--there was also the national pride at having defeated the Continental enemy France in the person of Napoleon in 1815. In addition to geopolitical dynamics, there was the parallel line of activity that was later to be identified as the Industrial Revolution, which changed the whole structure of life from rural to urban and from agricultural to industrial.

The first voice for change in the status of women were heard in 1792, with the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft's pamphlet titled Vindication of the Rights of Women, roughly contemporary with the American and French Revolutions. This first manifesto of feminism and precursor of its modern counterparts was itself hardly revolutionary, if considered with reference to the Terror, the revolutions of 1848 in Europe, the bloodbaths that have so often been proxies for revolutions ever since, and indeed what the women's suffrage movement in England had become about a century later. But it can be considered first in a continuous (though sometimes tenuo...

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Shift in Social Roles for Women in 19th and 20th Century England. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 10:15, November 29, 2021, from