How has Britain experienced the transition from the early modern to the modern period?

Essay by macca11874College, Undergraduate October 2009

download word file, 11 pages 5.0

This essay addresses the question of how Britain has experienced the transition from the early modern to the modern period. It argues that Britain has developed dramatically during this period of time: it became a very powerful nation and indeed assumed the mantle of global superpower. To support this argument and to understand its development, the essay analyses economic, social, political and cultural developments in Britain. Specific influences examined include a cultural renaissance, religion, urban growth and the family unit, advances in agricultural sciences and economic developments such as slavery and the Industrial Revolution. These interlinked factors ensured that Britain experienced dramatic and fundamental changes to its role as a nation state. At the same time, however, some elements of continuity existed, especially the political system. This essay then utilises three historical theories to examine these changes: first, World Systems theory, an approach to societal analysis and social change developed principally by Immanuel Wallerstein; second, Modernization theory, which focuses on analysing processes of development followed by the presently developed countries; and, third, Postcolonial theory, a set of theories utilized in philosophy, film, political sciences and literature that deal with the cultural legacy of colonial law.

Modernization theory, it can be argued, is the most useful of the three theorems, as it accurately portrays the structure and nature of Britain's development towards global superpowerdom.

The term "English Renaissance" is used by many historians to refer to a cultural movement in England in the 1500s and 1600s, the start of early modern British history, which was heavily influenced by the Italian Renaissance. This movement is characterized by the flowering of English as a language, notable achievements in drama by William Shakespeare and the development of epic English poetry. This cultural movement was complemented by the growth and development of the Church of...