Society is a group of individuals united by a network of relationships, traditions and institutions.

English society comprises the group behaviour of the English people, and of collective social interactions, organisation and political attitudes in England.

The social history of England evidences many social and societal changes over the history of England, from Anglo-Saxon England to the contemporary forces upon the Western world.

These major social changes have both internally and in its relationship with other nations.

The themes of social history include demographic history, labour history and the working class, women’s history, family, the history of education in England, rural and agricultural history, urban history and industrialisation.

The social history of the medieval period was primarily developed by Eileen Power, H. S. Bennett, Ambrose Raftis, Rodney Hilton, and Sylvia Thrupp before the rise of the New Social History in the 1960s.

Burchardt (2007) evaluates the state of English rural history and focuses on an “orthodox” school dealing chiefly with the economic history of agriculture.

The orthodox historians made “impressive progress” in quantifying and explaining the growth of output and productivity since the agricultural revolution.

A challenge came from a dissident tradition that looked chiefly at the negative social costs of agricultural progress, especially enclosure.

In the late 20th century there arose a new school, associated with the journal Rural History.

Led by Alun Howkins, it links rural Britain to a wider social history.

Burchardt calls for a new countryside history, paying more attention to the cultural and representational aspects that shaped 20th-century rural life.


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