Orientation Identification. England, unlike Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland, does not constitutionally exist, and thus it has no separate rights, administration, or official statistics. The Church of England is its main distinctive institution. The English maintain their separate identity in sports (soccer, cricket, and rugby) and heritage; this is manifest in the monarchy, aristocracy, and associated pageantry, parliament, pride in their country, and love for their local community (with the local pub being an integrating institution). English poetry, literature, and art is also distinctive. With the decrease of specialized industry, an increase in mass marketing, and greater population mobility, English distinctiveness is threatened. However, measures such as restoration and protection of city centers, the countryside, and historic buildings—along with the movement for greater control and participation in local affairs—help counter the trend toward homogeneity.
Location. England constitutes the largest land area and highest population density of any of the four units of the United Kingdom. It is also the most intensely industrialized region. Located off the northwest coast of continental Europe, it is bounded on the north by Scotland and on the west by Wales. It is located approximately between 49°56′ and 55°49′ N and 1°50′ E and 5°46′ W (not including the Channel Islands). Geographically, England constitutes 130,863 square kilometers or 53 percent of the land area of the United Kingdom and is divided into the uplands and lowlands. Following a line joining the mouths of the Tees and Exe rivers, the uplands in the northwest are characterized by rocky and mountainous areas while the lowlands of the southeast contain gentle rolling country with some hills. For the United Kingdom as a whole, the terrain is 30 percent arable, 50 percent meadow and pasture, 12 percent waste or urban, 7 percent forest, and 1 percent inland water. The climate is variable and mild for its latitudes. Rainfall for the south is 90 centimeters, with the southwest receiving 105 to 158 centimeters per year, while the extreme east gets 63 centimeters. The mean temperature for England in July is 16° C; in January and February it is 5° C. However, the north is slightly colder than the south; winter in the north averages 70 days of frost while the south averages 13.
Demography. The English number 46,168,120 (1989 estimate), 81.5 percent of the population of the United Kingdom. They have maintained their relative proportion of the United Kingdom population, but the proportion of younger and older people has increased because the birthrate declined between 1921 and 1942 and then increased after World War II. The population is primarily urban and suburban. In 1921, more than 40 percent of the people lived in the six great conurbations that center on London. After World War II, there was movement from the inner cities to the suburban fringes and beyond, with the inner cities showing a marked decrease. However, English population density is among the highest in the world, averaging 840 persons per square mile in 1981 for England and Wales and rising to 12,600 for the greater London area.
Linguistic Affiliation. The English language is of the Indo-European Family. Its parent tongue is the West Germanic Group of Proto-Indo-European. The closest related Languages are German, Netherlandic, and Frisian. There is considerable dialectical variation, the most distinctive being in Lancashire, Cornwall, and parts of East London. Radio, television, and transportation are causing these differences to diminish, with the style of the southeast becoming the Standard. However, there is no difference in literary style between the various regions.
History and Cultural Relations Early English history is marked by immigration. Although not the first, the Celts began arriving around 2,500 to 3,000 years ago. England became part of the Roman Empire in a.d. 43. After the Roman withdrawal in a.d. 410, waves of Jutes, Angles, and Saxons arrived and established control, in spite of Danish incursions from the eighth through the eleventh centuries. By the fifth century a.d., the term "English"—"Angelcynn," meaning "angel kin"—was applied to the Teutonic inhabitants collectively. By the eleventh century, the term included the Celtic and Scandinavian elements and all natives of England, except for the Normans, who remained separate for several generations after their conquest in 1066. The signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 guaranteed the rights of rule by law, a point of pride for the English. In 1301, Edward of Caernarvon, son of King Edward I of England, was created Prince of Wales. The Hundred Years' War (1338-1453) resulted in the claim to large parts of France being lost, and the War of the Roses (1455-1485) led to the Tudor monarchy, which in turn led to a distinctively flourishing English civilization. In 1534, religious independence from the pope was established. Under Queen Elizabeth I, England became a major naval power and its colonies and trade expanded. In 1603, James VI of Scotland succeeded to the throne of England as King James I, and the island of Britain was united under one royal family. After a civil war (1642-1649), a republic under Oliver Cromwell was established, but the monarchy was restored in 1688, confirming the sovereignty of the English Parliament and the English Bill of Rights. By increasing colonial holdings and industrial power in the eighteenth century, the United Kingdom became a world power. Although victorious in both world wars, the country lost its position of world leadership, but it continued its industrial growth. During the postwar period, the Labor party governments passed some socialist legislation nationalizing some industries and expanding social security; but the Thatcher government reversed that trend and increased the role of private enterprise.
Since the Norman Conquest in 1066, a relatively homogeneous population has been maintained. However, England has been a haven for refugees ranging from the Huguenots in the seventeenth century to persecuted Jews in the twentieth. Starting in the 1950s, population homogeneity has been challenged by the immigration of West Indians and South Asians. As of 1989, they comprise about 4 percent of England's population (2 percent of the United Kingdom's population). Laws curbing immigration and prohibiting racial discrimination have been enacted, but racial tensions are present, especially in the inner urban centers of London and West Midlands where 60 percent of the immigrants reside.
Settlements About 90 percent of England's population is urban or suburban, and less than 3 percent of its people are engaged in agriculture. Thus, there is a structure of towns, villages, and cities where one sees scattered groups of high-density residence patterns. In spite of the large urban sprawl, England has extensive tracts of farms with smaller villages engulfed by trees, copses, hedgerows, and fields. Settlement patterns are classed into seven categories: conurbations, cities, boroughs, towns, villages, hamlets, and farms. Conurbations refer to the large complexes of densely populated urban areas with a complex of suburbs and towns surrounding or within a large city. A city is a large important borough. A borough is a town possessing a municipal corporation with special privileges conferred by royal charter (a city can have boroughs within it). A town can be incorporated or not incorporated within a conurbation, but either way it is a small cluster of buildings, which has an independent government with greater powers of rating (taxation), paving, and sanitation than those of a village. The village is smaller than a town and has less independence, and a hamlet is smaller still, often without a church. An examination of settlement patterns of towns, villages, and hamlets reveals a great variety of planned or unplanned settlements, with buildings at regular or random intervals. They can be clustered around a center, with its own structure of roads or lanes, or linear, along the sides of a road or field. Farmsteads generally comprise the farming family.
Economy Subsistence and Commercial Activities. For planning purposes, England is divided into eight regions, but it can be grouped into four divisions comprising the north, Midlands, southeast, and southwest. The north contains about one-third of the total land area and one-third of the population. Although there is some dairy and grazing livestock production, the division is highly industrial, comprising 35 percent of England's manufacturing labor force (43 percent of England's total work force in manufacturing). Most cities are near coal fields. Old, stable industries have declined, leading to unemployment. Emigration from the region has been high, although the region continues to have a slight population increase. The Midlands has about half of its workers employed in manufacturing industries, making automobiles, metal goods, and related products. About 3 percent of them work in coal and iron ore fields and 1.5 percent in mixed farming. It is common to find villages that specialize (locks and keys in Willenhall, needles and hooks in Ridditch, and so on). In the southeast, more than 60 percent of the labor force is in Service industries such as construction and public administration, 32 percent in manufacturing, and less than 2 percent in agriculture. Electrical equipment, machinery, paper, printing, and publishing are the leading industries. The southwest has a lower population. Dairy farming is prominent and manufacturing employs 32 percent of the labor force. Many people retire there and tourism is important. However, unemployment is also high. In essence, England has been going through a long process of change. In the nineteenth century, the north, which was previously underdeveloped and backward, became the powerhouse or "workshop of the world." As the United Kingdom lost its prominence in the world economy, the north also lost its importance and power shifted to the southeast.
Industrial Arts. Service industries employ about half of England's work force, while a third of the workers are in manufacturing and engineering. The remainder are in agriculture, construction, mining, and energy.
Trade. Three types of trade take place in English communities. The traditional institution is the central market, which is often covered but open. It has stalls that sell everything from fish to clothes. Within neighborhoods there are clusters of specialty shops which usually comprise a grocer, butcher, newsstand, appliance store, and sweet shop. Since 1970, chain enterprises in fast food and groceries have developed and expanded.
Division of Labor. There is a hierarchy and division of labor with limited mobility. In manufacturing, jobs are specialized according to skill and hierarchy of class is maintained where bosses have authority over subordinates. Division of labor according to gender is diminishing in the workplace as well as the domestic sphere. Class consciousness is decreasing, with the upwardly mobile young urban professional (Yuppie) becoming a dominant role model.
Land Tenure. Land in England is privately owned.
Kinship, Marriage, and Family Kinship. The most important kin group is the extended family, which generally includes all known relatives. Although descent is not strictly lineal, the family name is traced patrilineally. However, relationship through the female line is acknowledged informally. If he has no male heir, a son may incorporate the name of his mother's family as his family name in a hyphenated form. Kin relationships are strongly Influenced by distance, stage of life, and closeness of relationship. In practice, the mother-daughter relationship dominates and it is around the wife's mother that much family activity is determined. Other members of the kin group are included if they live nearby. However, neighbors are very Important in providing companionship and social support, and these friendships are often maintained after a person has moved away.
Marriage. The emphasis on marital status has decreased in the last decade. Self-esteem and status are now determined by a career, whereas previously they centered on having a spouse and children. Today people often delay marriage and children until their career aspirations stabilize. Generally marriages are by the choice of the male and female. Abortion is legal and divorce is acceptable; both have increased in the postwar era.
Domestic Unit. The nuclear family is the most prevalent domestic unit. It consists of the mother, father, and juvenile children. During times when housing was scarce, it was Common for a newly married couple to live with the wife's family. Among the landed gentry residence for the eldest son was patrilocal while other offspring resided elsewhere.
Inheritance. Traditionally, inheritance was through the male line. The aristocracy maintained its wealth by a system of primogeniture, where the estate went to the eldest son. Other sons had to serve in the army, the church, or business, or vanish into obscurity or poverty. Now, inheritance is according to the wishes of the owner of the resources. He or she dictates the inheritance by a will or testament. If there is no will, it is probated in a court.
Socialization. Parents, peers, and media are three primary influences for socialization. Parents discipline, but corporal punishment is not acceptable. Evaluation by one's peers is important for English children. Television, videos, rock music, advertising, and other forms of popular media culture exert a strong influence on children.
Sociopolitical Organization England is a constitutional monarchy. There is no written constitution, and so statutes, common law, and practice guide governance. The monarch is the chief of state and Controls the executive branch. The prime minister is the head of the government and has a cabinet. The legislative section is a bicameral Parliament composed of a House of Commons and a House of Lords; primary power lies with the House of Commons. There is also a court system, with the House of Lords being the highest level.
Social Organization. In English society, the aristocracy, "new society," middle class, and working class are the primary units. The landed aristocracy is the only aristocracy. Alongside the aristocracy is the new society, the self-made rich. In the nineteenth century, wealth did not buy power, because it was concentrated in the aristocracy. However, the aristocracy has lost its monopoly on power. At present, most Britons see themselves as belonging either to the middle or working class. What makes a person claim membership to one of these two classes varies; economic affluence and occupation are not consistent indicators. Also, the middle class is fragmenting with each group defining itself in opposition to other groups.
Political Organization. Under the central government, the country is divided into municipalities, counties, and Parliamentary constituencies. In 1974, the conurbations were detached from existing counties and designated as metropolitan counties.
Social Control. The court system, sense of tradition, public opinion, and mass media all work together to promote conformity and resolve conflicts in English society.
Conflict. Since England has not suffered from invasions since the Norman Conquest, there is no focused animosity against any particular group, although some resentment toward the Germans exists as a result of the two world wars. Internal conflicts have been primarily with Northern Ireland. They started in 1968 with demonstrations by Catholics who charged that they were discriminated against in voting rights, housing, and employment. Violence and terrorism has intensified between the Irish Republican Army (which is outlawed), Protestant groups, police, and British troops. Racial tensions between the white English community and the West Indians and South Asians have developed recently, but they have not resulted in ongoing terrorism and violence.
Religion and Expressive Culture Religious Beliefe and Practices. Although England is a secular country, about one-half of the population is baptized in the Anglican church; however, only 10 million are communicant members. Roman Catholics number 6 million, and the rest belong to nonconformist free churches such as Methodist or Baptist. Except for some areas of Irish settlements in the northwest, religious tolerance persists.
The Church of England traces its history back to the arrival of Christians in Britain during the second century. It has preserved much of the tradition of medieval Catholicism while holding on to the fundamentals of the Reformation. It broke with the Roman papacy during the reign of Henry VIII (1509—1547). The church has gone through persecution and was also influenced by the Puritans. Nevertheless, it has maintained an episcopal form of government, with the monarchy acting as the secular head of the English church and the Archbishop of Canterbury having spiritual prominence.
Arts. England has a strong and distinctive tradition in literature, theater, and architecture. In literature, writers tend to focus on their particular region, while in plays they are more likely to deal with England as a whole. In architecture, the English have borrowed from other cultures, but they have transformed the concepts into a characteristically English style. England has also become a leader in popular culture with musical groups that have captured international prominence. London is the theater center for the English-speaking world.
Medicine. England's national health service provides quality care. However, the system has declined somewhat under the Thatcher government and private practice has increased.
Death and Afterlife. In the Anglican church, exactly what happens at death is a mystery. However, Anglicans believe that the individual "is received by God into his arms," which is taken to mean the person passes into a timeless and spaceless relationship with God, unlike that which is experienced in this life. Funerals are conducted by a priest or minister a day or two after death.
Bibliography Bonfield, Lloyd, Richard M. Smith, and Keith Wrightson, eds. (1986). The World We Have Gained. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Helweg, Arthur W. (1986). Sikhs in England. 2nd ed. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Newby, Howard (1979). Social Change in Rural England. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Noble, Trevor (1981). Structure and Change in Modern Britain. London: Batsford Academic and Educational.
Priestley, J. B. (1934). English Journey. New York and London: Harper Brothers.
Sampson, Anthony (1983). The Changing Anatomy of Britain. New York: Random House.
United Kingdom, Government of. Central Office of Information (1989). Britain 1989: An Official Handbook. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office.
Young, Michael, and Peter Willmott (1957). Family and Kinship in East London. Baltimore: Penguin.
ARTHUR W. HELWEG
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