Higher History Extended Essay feedback?

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Report Thread starter 7 years ago
hi, i have got my higher history extended essay on thursday and we were told that we should write an intro and conclusion which we could learn by heart to take of some of the pressure of during the 2 hour time limit. For those of you who do not do higher (as/a levels) we do get a 200 word page of notes/plan which are also sent away with the essay, they are all marked externally.
Anyway I was hoping for some feedback of my intro and conclusion so here it is, any feedback would be much appreciated! thank you

Extended Essay
How successfully did the Liberal Reforms of 1906-1914 deal with the problem of poverty in Britain in the early 1900's? [2010]
The poverty issues in Britain in the early 20th Century were greatly improved post to the Great War. The attitudes of the upper classes and government ministers towards poverty and the poor, previously to the Reforms, were very much a 'Laissez-Faire' outlook on to how the country should be run. 'Laissez-Faire' is a phrase which directly translates from the French to mean 'let it be', this is exactly what their attitudes were towards looking after society, in the sense that they did not really help anyone but just 'let it be'. They also felt that poverty was the fault of the poor and took no interest in helping them, it was thought that if the people were determined enough they would get themselves out of poverty on their own, some even stated that they did not "believe" in unemployment. This opinion was evident in "Self-Help", the published works of Dr. Samuel Smiles, where he stated "heaven helps those who help themselves" and this was definitely not an unpopular view. The passing of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, although, at first, seemed like it was helping the poor, only really singled out the poor and made them feel victimized. The conditions in the workhouses were atrocious and ensured the occupants worked long hours and cruel punishments were enforced for any 'slackers', the workhouse was a place of last resort and some died before giving in and moving to the workhouse. But as the end 19th Century grew nearer, attitudes also began to vary, this was partly due to the published works of both Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree. Booth worked in London and found that approx. 30% of people occupying the city at this time were living in poverty, he went on to create the 'poverty line', which revealed how a member of the working class would 'flicker' in and out of poverty over their life time and how it was not the poor's fault but rather, down to circumstances of the time. Rowntree based his study in the city of York, a very different location to that of Booth's study, and yet, the results remained the same and Rowntree found that approx. 30% of York were living in poverty, they found that this figure was about the same across the country and this really shocked the whole nation. It was clear improvements were needed and that the government would really need to take a step forward and use their power to their advantage. Rowntree also introduced the ideas of Primary Poverty, where the person did not get enough income to support themselves, and Secondary Poverty, where the person earned enough income but wasted the income on drink, gambling and other unnecessary habits. As the facts of poverty became more well known, the attitudes towards poverty began to differ accordingly and a definite move away from individualism towards collectivism, where the idea that the state had a duty to look after the people of the United Kingdom was a key idea, occurred. Another key part in the successful development of Britain was that finally, the electorate was being extended and more people from varied backgrounds were able to vote. This also meant that now the working class had the vote the political parties had to make an extra effort to ensure they would be getting the vote from the working class, to get their vote they would have to make sure that improvements were made which would benefit the newest addition to the electorate. And with
the working class now making up a fair percentage of the electorate, as expected, the popularity of the Labour party directly increased. Two more events which played important parts in changing the attitudes of the country towards poverty were when we were in need of soldiers to fight in the Boer War of 1899-1902, it was found that nearly 50% of the possible recruitments were unfit to serve in the army, it was bad enough that there were people living in poverty but when the government realised they were going to struggle to defend their country, which could result in the United Kingdom becoming an easy target, that was when they really understood the real extent of the problem. The second point to consider was that Germany, Britain's most prominent rival, was much further ahead of its time than Britain with their state pension and sickness and accident insurance already working well. With all these points to consider, the only answer was to introduce extreme reforms which would improve the lives of the people across the nation.
The Liberal Reforms between 1906-1914 were fairly effective, but still managed to miss out key points which would have decreased the amount of poverty hugely and could have even influenced the amount of unemployment post to the Great War. The Act of 1911 was introduced to cover the temporary unemployment and it was not expected that the amount would increase after the war, leaving the taxation unable to cover the costs of the benefit and landing the government into trouble. On the other hand, these reforms encouraged the move towards collectivism and leaving the attitude of 'Laissez-Faire' in the past. This was only a good thing for the country as it was the only way those in need would get the help they deserved from the government which previously were doing nothing and took on very much a individualist outlook. Obviously, the Liberal Reforms were not the only reason for the creation of the Welfare State, but they were an important factor and the early stages of the Welfare State were visible in their reforms made during the period of 1906-1914. The Liberal Reforms were also a prominent transition point between the old 'Laissez-Faire' attitudes and the what-would-be the 'Welfare State' but although this was a transition point, this did not mean the old opinion had vanished, many did not agree with being forced to pay towards something they had no choice about and the upper-classes often disliked 'giving' their money towards those who were too "lazy" to go out and earn money for themselves. It was a fear that people may become reliant on the benefit and that they may not save for their old age as they know they will be guaranteed money because of this scheme. Winston Churchill [at the time a Liberal MP] managed to summarise the complete aims of the Liberal Reforms by stating "If we see a drowning man, we do not drag him to the shore. Instead we provide help to allow him to swim ashore" and this is exactly what the Liberal Reforms, very nearly, did.
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Report 7 years ago
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