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Social change and Politics in the City

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Social change and Politics in the City - Lesson Summary

Industrialisation brought many people to the city in search of work and a better life. The life in the city encouraged a spirit of individualism. The term Individualism refers to a theory that promotes the liberty, rights or independent action of the individual, rather than of the community.

However, individualism did not guarantee equal rights to both men and women. Political movements such as Chartism and the 10 hour movement focussed on the rights of men. It was only after the women suffrages movement that women gained the right to vote and the right to own property after marriage.

The family became a smaller and people had more time for leisure. The rich spent their free time in pleasure gardens, which had sports, entertainment and refreshments. The state built libraries, art galleries and museums to educate, entertain and to instil a sense of pride, for their heritage, in the common people.

Before the 20 th century, the working classes frequented music halls, but that changed with the onset of cinema, which catered to mixed audiences. Groups of people were drawn into political causes driven by poverty and poor living conditions. For instance, the Bloody Sunday riot of 1887 and the 12 day dockyard workers strike.

State authorities tried to keep rebellion in check and also worked on enhancing the beauty of urban areas. Haussmanisation refers to the forcible reconstruction of cities to enhance their beauty and impose order. The reconstruction displaced approximately 350,000 people from the centre of Paris.

Initially, people criticised Haussmann's designs as boring. However, this criticism soon turned to pride as Paris became the hub of many new architectural, social and intellectual developments influencing other parts of the world.  


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