The History of Reading, Volume 2: Evidence from the British Isles, c.1750–1950

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Increasingly, government policy has aimed services for the elderly, the disabled, and persons with learning disabilities at helping those people live at home and in the community. The mentally ill are treated locally, though since there are fewer places for the mentally ill in large hospitals, this has meant farming out patients to smaller hospitals and private and charity-supported facilities.

Local authorities have the responsibility for child welfare, and provide aid to families such as advice, guidance, counseling, and day care. They also protect abused children and care for children without parents.

The major beneficiaries are the unemployed, families in need, those with short-term or long-term disability, widows, and elderly retirees. Since the early s, more conditions have been placed on the receipt of DSS benefits, with the exception of the elderly and those unable to work. The unemployed, A row of houses in Shaftesbury, Dorset. Many small villages have made an effort to preserve classic English architecture.

Social change programs for ethnic minorities and women are in their infancy. There is a Race Equality Unit in the central government, and the Race Relations Act set up the Commission for Racial Equality that oversees over one hundred racial equality councils. These changes have not diminished ethnic inequality and tensions, although Britain has a minister for women, a Women's Unit, and an Equal Opportunity Commission EOC as well as an umbrella group known as the Women's National Commission. The Charity Commission for England and Wales registered , charities in Across the United Kingdom, charities employed , people and supervised three million volunteers in With the move toward privatization in the s, charities became more important, but social and economic dislocation have made it difficult for them to maintain the social safety net.

Nongovernmental organizations work with children and youth; marginalized or disadvantaged groups such as the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and those suffering from inequality; environmental conservationists; the science and technology sector; the arts; and the humanities. Division of Labor by Gender.

Gender roles assign homemaking, other domestic activities, and most unpaid labor to women. A man's sense of self is defined chiefly in terms of the paid work he can obtain.

The impact of these constructions of gender is now much different than before, but is still felt in English society. The Relative Status of Women and Men. Although there is no equal rights amendment, in recent decades there has been a more noticeable commitment to equality of opportunity for men and women through bodies such as the Equal Opportunity Commission and laws such as the Abortion Act of and the Divorce Act. The rate of women's especially married women's participation in the workforce increased in the late twentieth century, as did the nature of that participation.

In , only 57 percent of women of working age were economically active, but in that figure was 72 percent, whereas men's participation declined from 91 percent to 84 percent. Despite their importance in the workforce, women earn only 80 percent of what men do. Women have been confined to lower-status work, are more likely to work part-time, and are under-represented in elite jobs.

However, some women have obtained high-status, formerly male-dominated work, and the status of female-dominated work has risen. Women's increasing participation in political life and their progress in religious roles in society—the rise of women MPs in the s and the Church of England's agreement to ordain women priests in —may be an indication of this. Women have probably made the least progress in the social sphere.

The History of Reading, Volume 2: Evidence from the British Isles, c.1750-1950

They were the victims in 70 percent of cases of domestic violence in , and women still perform most unpaid work, such as running households and raising children. Gender roles among particular subgroups, however, diverge from this picture. Some Muslim and Jewish women are more involved in the domestic sphere, and Afro-Caribbean community women are more likely to be employed and have a higher status than Afro-Caribbean men.

Among many members of the South Asian and Jewish communities, arranged marriages as a means of cementing family alliances are the norm. Most inhabitants, however, decide independently whom to marry, often choosing to cohabit with the partner before marriage. Social position, social aspirations, and informal social control drive the choice of a marriage partner.

Thus, marriages across class lines are not common, especially among unskilled workers and the professional and managerial classes.

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Marriages across ethnic lines also are not common. As a reason for marriage, economic security is prominent, but so is the desire for sexual and social companionship.

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In , about half the population over age sixteen was married. While marriage between a man and a woman remains the primary model for long-term relationships, it is not the only one. Same-sex unions and so-called blended families are increasingly common, and experimentation with forms of quasi-polygamy has taken place. Domestic Unit. The basic domestic unit is a household headed by a married couple—a model that accounted for 59 percent of the households in Close to 73 percent of inhabitants live in a family headed by a couple though not necessarily a married couple.

It is uncommon for couples to live with the kin of either partner. Current gender roles dictate that men are the primary breadwinners and women are responsible for household management.

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Who actually controls the household on a daily basis, however, varies by household. Single-parent, usually female-headed households are on the rise, accounting for 9 percent of all households in The extended family is a visible and important social institution in the South Asian, Asian, Afro-Caribbean, and Jewish communities and still plays a role in the majority population. People living alone represented 28 percent of households in Children rarely depend on inherited wealth to become independent and usually inherit movable property rather than real estate.

When real estate is involved, it often consists of a home and the attached land, not agricultural land. Most people follow the principle of equal division of inherited wealth among offspring, with some favoritism toward biological offspring in blended families. Advertisements and a sign for the Underground in London's busy Piccadilly Circus.

Kin Groups.


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People envision themselves as part of a set of interconnected families, the size of which varies with marital status and family traditions. Most people include three to four generations of people in their kin group.

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Those who are married count the same number of generations of the spouse's family as part of their family. Kin groups do not have prominent status in society formally or informally. Notions of kinship involve a network of individuals who enter into kin relationships.

The individual is not subsumed by the kin structure. Infant Care. Good mothering entails stimulating an infant through play and other activities. Many other aspects of infant care are class-specific. For example, middle-class mothers are likely to breast feed babies and wean them early, while working-class mothers tend to use bottle feeding and wean infants later. Middle-class infants are more likely to sleep in a separate room in a crib than are their working-class peers. Working-class infants also are more likely to receive physical chastisement for crying.

Working-class fathers are not likely to participate in the upbringing of infant children because of the difficulty of obtaining time off. Child Rearing and Education. A good child is often termed well adjusted, as opposed to children who are shy, withdrawn, overly aggressive, or hyperactive. Typically, people see children's behavior as the result of interactions with those around them, with the parents being the primary influence. Some children are viewed as having health problems that affect behavior, requiring medical intervention.

There are two major areas of emphasis in child-rearing practices and beliefs. First, adults, particularly parents, need to teach children and young adults how to behave by setting limits to what they can and cannot do, teaching them how to solve conflicts and deal with others, and modeling good behavior.

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Second, adults should stimulate children to learn and be curious and creative to promote the growth of their mental capacities. Children are supposed to be well behaved but capable of interacting with their peers without shyness and should be curious and inquisitive as learners. Models for learning, teaching, and parenting involve intense interaction between teacher and learner and parent and child.

Major secular initiation ceremonies for children and young adults revolve around the educational process and clubs. School graduation ceremonies are a primary rite of passage for most children and young adults. Hazing is used to initiate junior members of clubs, schools, and street gangs. There are three levels of schooling below the university level: preschool, primary school, and secondary school. Depending on the kinds of knowledge tested at the secondary levels, schools emphasize practical knowledge and problem solving as much as the mastery of a body of knowledge. Higher Education.

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Government policy since the late s has been aimed at expanding the opportunities for students to benefit from postsecondary education to create a more skilled workforce and increase social mobility. In the s, more than 30 percent of all eighteen-year-olds were attending a university up from under 5 percent in , although the recent introduction of student fees may cause some to discontinue their education. Etiquette is changing, but norms for appropriate behavior articulated by the elite and the middle class are still an important normative force.

Greetings vary by the class or social position of the person with whom one is dealing. Those with titles of nobility, honorific titles, academic titles, and other professional titles prefer to be addressed by those titles, but like people to avoid calling too much attention to a person's position.