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История End of empire
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Moral codes

Social and cultural change has also reflected the extent to which the population has become more individualistic and less deferential.

The moral code that prevailed in 1945 broke down, a process formalised by legal changes in the 1960s. Abortion and homosexuality became legal, capital punishment was abolished, and measures were taken to improve the position of women.

By the 1990s, only one in seven Britons was an active member of a Christian church.

These changes were linked to shifts in religious practice. By the 1990s, only one in seven Britons was an active member of a Christian church, although more claimed to be believers.

But for most believers, formal expressions of faith became less important. The failure in the 1990s of the heavily church-backed 'Keep Sunday Special' campaign (to prevent shops from opening on the sabbath) confirmed the general trend.

More generally, the authority of age and experience were overthrown and, in their place, came an emphasis on youth and novelty.

This was seen in politics with, for example, the lowering of the voting age to 18; in the economy, with the rise of the youth consumer; and in culture, with marked changes in popular music.

The 1960s destroyed a cultural continuity that had lasted since the Victorian period.

Alongside the apparent continuity in popular culture of works such as the James Bond films, the novels of Dick Francis and the radio soap 'The Archers', there were also important shifts, for example in popular music.

In the 1960s, pop music - not least that of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones - gave Britain a very different feel in the world to that it had enjoyed as the world's predominant empire.

The Liverpool Sound, the Swinging Sixties, and the London of Carnaby Street created an image far removed from that of 1956 when, in a last major flourish of imperial power, Britain had unsuccessfully sought to intimidate Egypt in the Suez Crisis.

In 1945, Britain still had the largest empire in the world. This empire had largely been granted independence by 1964, beginning with independence for India and Pakistan in 1947.

Fragments remained. A war was successfully fought with Argentina in 1982 when the latter attacked the Falkland Islands, a colony inhabited by British settlers since 1833.

The most populous of Britain's remaining colonies, Hong Kong, was only handed over to China in 1997.

Britain became an active member of international organisations, not least the United Nations.

As empire receded fast, Britain seemed a diminished power. Nonetheless, it became the third state in the world to gain the atom bomb in1952, followed by the hydrogen bomb in 1957.

Defence in the post-war era largely consisted of the protection of Western Europe against the threat of Soviet invasion, and Britain played a key role in this confrontation which became known as the Cold War.

Britain became an active member of international organisations, not least the United Nations, of which it was a founder member and held a permanent seat on the Security Council.

Britain was also a founder member of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in 1949, and sent a contingent of troops to take part in the Korean War (1950 - 1953) against Communist North Korea.

Closer to home, troops were deployed in Northern Ireland from 1969 in response to an outbreak of sectarian violence, which rapidly became a major terrorist challenge. In the 1990s, a peaceful end to the 'Troubles' was negotiated, but tension continues.


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  • - End of empire

    Moral codes Social and cultural change has also reflected the extent to which the population has become more individualistic and less deferential. The moral code that prevailed in 1945 broke down, a process formalised by legal changes in the 1960s. Abortion and homosexuality became legal, capital punishment was abolished, and measures were taken to improve the position of women. By the 1990s, only one in seven Britons was an active member of a Christian church. These changes were... [читать подробенее]


  • - The end of Empire

    Partition of Ireland The formal connection between Great Britain and Ireland dates from the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century. In the late 1550s and early 1600s English and Scottish Protestants migrated to the northern province of Ulster, their religion setting diem apart from die other, indigenous Roman Catholic inhabitants of Ireland. In 1801 Ireland was unified with Great Britain, but Irish Nationalists continued to campaign in the 19th and early 20th centuries, for some... [читать подробенее]