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Critical Analysis: Unemployment In The Interwar Years A Study Of Three Extracts Considering Some Of The Problems Of Unemployment

1429 words - 6 pages

When the brief boom after the First World War ended, unemployment began to soar. By the 1930s, there was unprecedented unemployment nationwide, albeit mainly among the Northern working classes. The three extracts examined in this piece shed light on some of the aspects of unemployment, speculate about the causes and suggest some solutions to what has remained one of the most significant issues of the 20th and 21st Centuries.The first extract is taken from George Orwell’s Road to Wigan Pier published in 1937. It examines how the working class had been forced into change and how they adjusted to their situation. Orwell was always a politically motivated writer, but this source does not ...view middle of the document...

..” can be blamed on this supply of, “cheap palliatives”. He questions whether the ruling classes could be responsible for this correlation, or whether it was just an economic pattern that helped avert a revolution.Although Orwell does not dwell on any of his strongest points, or emphasise any particular arguments more than others, it is still a strong piece. The overall genre is similar to a piece of investigative journalism, despite containing a fair amount of speculation and rarely referring to any solid statistics or first hand examples. The Road to Wigan Pier was written while Orwell was in the North, researching, so it could be said that it is based on first hand experiences, however it is important to take his political and personal ideologies into consideration.The second and third extracts differ in their views about the ‘spirit’ of the unemployed. The second piece is taken from The Town that was Murdered by Ellen Wilkinson, a labour MP and well-known author. It is a case study on a single town near Middlesborough; Jarrow, and the schemes that have been set up to tackle unemployment there. Written at a similar time to Orwell’s, Wilkinson goes into a great deal of detail about the introduction of various clubs where the unemployed men could spend their time and ‘remain productive’. She also notes the effect that these have on the lives of these men. The piece helps to add some perspective and demonstrate the meagre effect of these much publicised schemes. Her strongest point is combating the perception of the unemployed townspeople’s ungratefulness, and she quotes a townsman in the final paragraph;“And as for being grateful for what is done for us – why shouldwe be? We are willing to work for what we get.”This goes a long way to enforcing Orwell’s point that unemployment was something that couldn’t be avoided for these men, and they knew it. Whereas before, these men would have been ashamed to be the one breaking the long line of working men in their family, now they know they are only in a position to make do with what they can get – it is out of their hands.Despite the school ‘text-book’ style of the extract, it touches on some of the major issues surrounding unemployment and supports the theory that in the final years before WWII, it had become an everyday part of life for many. This produced a glum air of acceptance about unemployment in these industry-dominated towns and undoubtedly a feeling of resentment was beginning to manifest in these men; their independence brought into question (literally) by projects like the Welfare Committee.The issue of resentment is also handled in the third extract, written by Wal Hannington in Unemployed Struggles 1919-1936. The author is clearly sceptical about the unavoidability of unemployment and he starts by challenging the popular belief that benefits for the unemployed had increased dramatically. He quickly...

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