FOUR, court-métrage réalisé par Joseph Baron, est une vision de la brutalité de la conformité imposée de l’ère numérique.

Les habitants sans visages de cette réalité façonnée par la technologie gâchent leur vie à entrer une série de 0 et de 1 sans fin. Lorsque le chiffre 4 infiltre l’un des ordinateurs, le système vacille. Le désir d’individualité et d’expression personnelle mène à la confusion et au traumatisme, poussant le protagoniste dans une expérience créative libératrice mais pleine de souffrance.

Cette version a été éditée avec la chanson Creep (de Radiohead) interprétée par Scala and Kolacny Brothers a capella:

The Anglo-American World is predominantly a Protestant and religious world: reformed Christianity largely influenced the culture and ideals. But Protestantism is no British creation for it appeared in the 16th century in continental Europe:

  • A German monk called Martin Luther started a rebellion against the churches’ authority in 1517 and founded a new church: “the Lutheran or Evangelical Church”.
  • A Frenchman called Jean Calvin rose against authority and influenced indirectly the whole civilization of the English-speaking world.

For them, the only authority in the church should come from the Bible and not from priests, for else the interpretation is open to everybody: the Reformation started a real challenge against authority. English and American Protestantisms were defined by plurality: the Reformation had a tremendous influence on the individual freedom and on the development of an atmosphere of tolerance.

In Britain, churches after the Reformation organized themselves as official national churches: one particular protestant church became the established Church [=> rejection & exclusion].

In Ireland, the establishment was the natural elite: that what was called the Ascendancy.

I. The Church of England

The Church of England was created by the top of the British society in 1534 when Henry VIII decided to separate the English Church from the Church of Rome by his own authority. His creation took the simple name of Anglican Church (English Church). The King had 3 main reasons for the creation of the Church of England:

  • Personal reason: the King wished to divorce his wife and the Pope refused. There was a problem of power for the King did not want to be ruled by the Pope.
  • Financial reason: England was small and poor before colonization and the King needed the Church’s wealth. Hence, the King accepted Luther’s theory about the abolition of monasteries and started the Reformation.
  • Political reason: Henry VIII wanted to be free of appointing the leaders of the church, i.e. the Bishops.

The Reformation is a declaration of independence for the rest of the world (especially for France and Italy). In terms of doctrine, Anglicanism is a political, practical and pragmatic compromise between roman Catholicism and continental Protestantisms: several tendencies developed within the Church from the part of the Church called High Church (close to Catholicism) to the low Church (close to Calvinism). The Church developed in a general atmosphere of tolerance. Yet, in terms of organization and discipline, the Church of England kept an elaborate hierarchy of priests, bishops and 2 archbishops under the supremacy of the King, the official head of the Church.

Individual access to reading the Bible, which represents a characteristic of Protestantism, was made possible through the publication in 1611 of an English translation of the texts. But, this was made under a strictly controlled version, known after the very significant name of the authorized version, which is in use nowadays in the USA: King James’s Bible.

From 1563, those who wanted to eliminate catholic survivors from the Church of England were forced to leave it: they were called the Puritans from their wish to purify the Church from popery. They gave birth to England’s religious pluralism that found an echo in a variety of American churches’ denominations.

II. The Church of Scotland

In 1559, John Knox founded a popular Calvinist church in Scotland. He rejected papal authority and all kinds of hierarchy but this democratic church imposed strict moral discipline and social order on the people. It was organized after a system called Presbyterianism in which authority was detained neither by people nor ministers but by a category of members called the Elders.

In 1560, the Scottish Parliament adopted Presbyterianism as the Church of Scotland.

III. The non-established churches

Contrary to the notions of uniformity and discipline, expressed by the established churches (England and Scotland), the existence and persistence of non-established denominations demonstrates the principles of diversity which is characteristic of the protestant world.Historically, both Catholics and Protestants dissenters were first persecuted and then excluded from civic life, i.e. they had no access to professions, to trading corporations, to universities (both as students and professors) and to politics. Protestants independents were finally tolerated in the early 18th century but the formal emancipation of those two groups of people only took place in 182X, when they were given full civil rights.

A. Roman Catholicism

Because of persecutions, Roman Catholicism had almost disappeared from GB in the 18th century. But in Ireland, it remained the religion of a majority of the population. Nevertheless, like the Br counterpart, until 1829, Irish Catholics were discriminated and the minority Anglican Church was established as the official church of Ireland. Mainly because of Irish immigration from 1845 onwards, Roman Catholicism has made constant progress in GB, particularly in the big industrial centers of the Northwest (Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow).

In 1921, the major part of Ireland separated from Britain and became the Irish Free State, which later took the name of Irish Republic or Eire. But the mainly protestant countries of Northern Ireland remained British for political and religious reasons. They formed the province of Ulster. This close link between religion and politics, between Protestantism and unionism on the one hand and Catholicism and republicanism on the other hand is the main reason for sectarian violence in Ulster.

Other problems are typical of the religious context of Northern Ireland:

  • Absence of residential integration between Catholics and Protestants: the two communities live in separate quarters. This problem is responsible for the presence of ghettos in Belfast or Derry.
  • Persistence of job discrimination for the catholic minority in Northern Ireland. Although discrimination was formerly declared illegal in 1979, Ÿ of the jobless in Northern Ireland are Catholics.

B. Other protestant denominations

Several denominations still continue to be in the independent tradition that emerged in England and in Scotland against the established churches:

  • The Congregationalists: emerged as the old puritan separatists. In England and Wales, they have recently merged with the Presbyterians to become the united-reformed church. But this union was impossible in Scotland, where Presbyterianism is established as the official church.
  • The Baptists: were created in England in 1609 by John Smyth. Their action is very important in the USA (especially in the South). Famous Baptists: Martin Luther King, Billy Graham, Jimmy Carter.
  • The Quakers: were founded by the Englishman George Fox in 1650. They have no clergy at all and advocate pacifism (peace and love). Their influence is very important in charities and education. They played a decisive role in business and capitalism: Barclay founded an important banking company and Cadbury a chocolate company. The Quakers also founded two American states: Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, both famous for their religious tolerance and democratic institutions.
  • The Methodists: were created by an Englishman called John Wesley in the middle of the 18th century. Methodism started as protest against conservatism and formalism in the Church of England. Popular movement insisting on individual freedom and personal enthusiasm.
  • The Salvation Army: was founded by an Englishman called William Booth in 1865 in a very original protestant church without clergy, yet with a strong military organization. Church insisting on the relief of poverty as essential.

IV. The influence of Protestantism

Protestantism and more especially Bible reading in English represent the major origins of the Anglo-American moral and intellectual traditions. It greatly influenced native traditions but it was also influenced by those different traditions. The result of these interactions, sometimes violent, is a complex cultural melting pot that is characteristic of the contemporary English-speaking world.

A. Influence on politics and economics

Protestantism advocated individual freedom and more democracy in Church matters. The Anglo-American tradition emphasizes on the notion of respect for civic liberties and insists on the necessity for minimum intervention from the state in everyday life.

Therefore, both libertarianism and liberalism may be said to be consequence of Protestantism. Parliamentary institutions were first adopted in England before the Reformation but the progressive desacralization of monarchy and the rule of pluralism through the creation of political parties are legacies of Protestantism.

The coexistence between centralism and delegation of authority was inherited from Protestantism. In Britain, the monarchy persisted as the symbol of state. In the USA, the new presidential institutions lay emphasis on a powerful head of state. But in both cases, local authorities have their own say in political matters. The American regime is federal while the British system applies the rule of subsidiarity; i.e. decisions are taken at the lowest possible level.

Capitalism may also be attributed to Protestantism, since economic success and accumulation of capital were considered as signs of salvation.

B. Influence on culture and society

Because of the emphasis put on the individual by Protestantism, Anglo-American societies are strongly individualistic. They expressed the horror of collective structure, the cult of the self-made-man and are very often indifferent to poverty. Society is also animated by a strong sense of community, in a great respect for organization, responsibility and public spirit. Sometimes, the state is committed to social issues: the Welfare State in GB was set up in 1945 to protect national health and social security but there is no Welfare State in the USA.

Hence, opposition of a puritan sense of economy, seriousness, work ethic, counterbalanced by a degree of relativism, distanced humor and nonsense, which are as powerful as the puritan trend. Because of its religious diversity, the Anglo-American World inherited a great sense of compromise in a general context of striking social and cultural contrast.

Sommaire de la série From the Reformation to the birth of the American nation (1534-1776)

  1. The Reformation in the British Isles
  2. English Expansionism
  3. The Glorious Revolution of 1688
  4. The American colonies : Religion and Politics
  5. Birth of a Nation

Chacun peut-il réussir en fonction de ses mérites personnels, ou, au contraire, la fonction de chacun est-elle déterminée à l’avance ?

Pitirim Sorokin (1889-1968) est un sociologue américain qui a défini la mobilité sociale comme “le phénomène du déplacement d’individus dans l’espace social”. Il est le pionnier de la sociologie de la mobilité sociale.

I – Les termes utilisés

La stratification sociale est la division de la société en groupes sociaux hiérarchisés et présentant chacun une forte homogénéité au regard de certains critères (revenus, modes de vie, valeurs, statut juridique…).

Il existe deux conceptions de la stratification sociale.

Dans un sens général, elle désigne les différentes façons de classer les individus dans une société en fonction de leurs positions sociales respectives. Ainsi une société divisée en castes, en ordres ou en classes sociales distinctes renvoie à autant de formes distinctes de stratification.

Au sens strict, la stratification sociale cherche simplement à décrire une société divisée en “strates”, i. e. en groupes sociaux sans hiérarchie officielle et juridique, dont les membres sont définis et classés à partir d’un ou de plusieurs critères (revenu, lieu de résidence, prestige…).

A la différence des classes sociales, il existe une continuité d’une strate à l’autre. En outre, les strates ne sont pas, comme les classes sociales, des groupes sociaux antagonistes.

La mobilité intergénérationnelle désigne le changement de position sociale d’une génération à une autre. On compare la situation du fils par rapport à celle du père.

Cette mobilité peut être verticale ascendante quand le mouvement se fait du bas vers le haut (ex : le fils d’un ouvrier devient cadre), verticale descendante quand le mouvement se fait du haut vers le bas (ex : un fils de cadre devient ouvrier) ou horizontale lorsqu’il n’y a ni ascension sociale, ni régression sociale.

La mobilité structurelle ou contrainte est dûe à l’évolution de la structure de la population active. C’est la mobilité imposée par l’évolution de la structure sociale d’une époque à l’autre.

La mobilité totale observée (ou brute) est la somme de la mobilité nette (ou de circulation) et de la mobilité structurelle (contrainte).

La mobilité intragénérationnelle désigne le changement de position sociale d’un individu au cours de sa vie active.

Elle peut être verticale ascendante (un ouvrier devient technicien au cours de sa vie active), verticale descendante (un ingénieur, après une période de chômage, retrouve un emploi de technicien) ou horizontale (un ouvrier qualifié devient employé).

La mobilité parfaite ou totale n’existe pas. Si elle existait, les hommes se répartirait, au hasard, aux différents niveaux indépendamment de leur origine : un fils d’ouvrier aurait autant de chances de devenir PDG que le fils du patron d’une société.

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) est un sociologue français, auteur de De la démocratie en Amérique, publié en deux tomes (1835 et 1840).

Il croît observer à travers les enquêtes faites en Amérique un phénomène inéluctable : l’égalisation des conditions sociales, qui entraîne la naissance d’une “société démocratique”.

Les inégalités que connaît la France actuellement sont compatibles avec la démocratie tocquevillienne.

I – La démocratie selon Tocqueville

A – Démocratie ?

Le terme “démocratie” est habituellement entendu au sens politique : c’est un état politique caractérisé par l’égalité de droits. C’est le gouvernement du peuple, élu par le peuple pour le peuple : le gouvernement où le peuple exerce sa souveraineté.

B – La démocratie de Tocqueville

Pour Tocqueville, la démocratie est un Etat social et non une simple forme de gouvernement. La démocratie marque l’égalisation des conditions mais cela ne signifie pas l’égalisation des situations économiques et sociales : il y a des riches et des pauvres.

Les peuples démocratiques ont une passion pour l’égalité : ils se pensent et se sentent égaux et semblables.

Tocqueville distingue 3 formes d’égalité :

  • l’égalité devant la loi : pas de privilèges
  • l’égalité des chances : méritocratie
  • l’égalité de considération : tous les honneurs sont accessibles à tous

Ce sentiment d’égalité pénètre la société toute entière. Il transforme profondément les relations humaines.

Cette passion pour l’égalité amène le changement social. Le passage à la démocratie sera lent et inéluctable.

L’égalisation des conditions entraîne le rapprochement des niveaux de vie, donc une montée en puissance des classes moyennes. C’est une société qui connaît une grande fluidité sociale car les inégalités ne viennent pas de l’origine sociale.

C – Le meilleur exemple de démocratie selon Tocqueville

Tocqueville pense que les USA sont l’image de l’avenir promis aux autres pays car il n’y a pas d’aristocratie : ” les Américains sont nés égaux avant de le devenir”. En France, la transition entre l’Ancien Régime et la démocratie fut beaucoup plus lent et difficile.


Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) est l’un des pères fondateurs de la sociologie. Il est l’auteur de deux ouvrages prépondérants : De la division du travail social (1893) et Le suicide (1897).

A la fin du 19ème siècle, il est préoccupé par les problèmes sociaux liés à la révolution industrielle en France : la cohésion sociale semble menacée.

Une question se retrouve dans toute l’oeuvre de Durkheim : quel ciment peut bien lier tous les individus les uns aux autres et faire tenir la société ?

Durkheim pose alors le problème du lien social. Il va créer une science nouvelle destinée à permettre d’analyser objectivement la réalité sociale. Il va imposer la sociologie comme discipline à part entière : l’objet de la sociologie est la société.

Pour comprendre le fonctionnement de la société, Durkheim va définir les règles de la méthode sociologique. Sa démarche est objective et il explique un fait social par rapport à d’autres faits sociaux. Son but est de dégager les réalités sociales à l’origine des comportements individuels.

Durkheim est partisan du holisme ou déterminisme social. Il s’oppose à Weber, partisan de l’individualisme méthodologique.

I – Individu et société

A – Etude d’un fait social : le choix du prénom

Fait social

Selon Durkheim, est fait social toute manière de faire susceptible d’exercer sur un individu une contrainte extérieure. C’est une manière d’agir ou de penser où s’exprime la contrainte que fait peser sur chacun l’appartenance à un groupe.

Le modèle classique

Devait faire face à des contraintes collectives :

  • lignée familiale (Famille)
  • communauté religieuse (Eglise)
  • collectivité locale

Les familles n’ont pas le libre choix du prénom (règles sociales contraignantes). Le prénom sert à rattacher l’individu à une identité collective. L’individu n’est pas d’abord identifié par sa personnalité mais par sa présence au sein d’un groupe.

Le modèle actuel

Aujourd’hui on veut individualiser l’enfant. Le choix est libre mais il y a l’influence de la mode. C’est une manière de se distinguer. Certains prénoms sont rattachés à des classes sociales. Le prénom devient un bien de consommation.

I – La stratification sociale

C’est la division de la société en groupes différents en fonction de critères variables. La société est une superposition de strates.

Une strate sociale regroupe toutes les personnes présentant une situation semblable pour un critère social donné et qui se situent ainsi dans un même niveau de la hiérarchie du prestige.

La stratification de la société a souvent été dépeinte comme une pyramide ou un diamant : plus on descend dans cette pyramide, plus le nombre d’individus est important.

A – Critères de différenciation

1 – Critères de différenciation socio-économiques

  • le patrimoine
  • le prestige
  • les statuts professionnels
  • la formation
  • le pouvoir
  • les revenus

2 – Critères de différenciation psycho-démographiques

  • l’âge
  • le style de vie
  • le sexe

B – Les groupes sociaux

L’individu partage-t-il nécessairement les valeurs et les représentations de son groupe ?

Pour cela, on étudie 2 groupes :

  • le groupe d’appartenance est le groupe auquel appartient la personne.
  • le groupe de référence est le groupe qui sert d’étalon pour juger de ce qui est bien ou mal tant pour sa conduite que pour celle des autres. Ce sont ses valeurs, ses normes, ses façons d’agir et de se comporter qui constituent l’idéal de celui qui s’y identifie.

II – Divers types de stratification sociale

Toute société comporte une stratification sociale, une hiérarchie. Les critères sont variables selon les sociétés (traditionnelles ou industrielles) : certaines donnent de l’importance aux vertus religieuses, d’autres aux prouesses guerrières et d’autres encore à la possession de richesses, de pouvoir, de prestige…

La manière de délimiter les groupes sociaux est aussi différente selon les sociétés (contours rigides : les castes ; contours plus souples : les classes sociales). Les systèmes de stratification sociale sont donc très divers.

La quasi-totalité des comportements humains sont déterminés par l’environnement social, même ceux qui satisfont un besoin physiologique comme manger. La façon d’être des individus est déterminée par ses relations avec les autres.

L’homme se révèle comme le résultat d’une nature biologique (l’inné) et d’un contexte social (l’acquis).

L’inné est l’ensemble des dispositions que l’homme possède à la naissance et qu’il n’a pas appris par la culture. Influence des facteurs biologiques ou génétiques.

L’acquis est tout ce que la société transmet à l’individu au cours de son existence. Influence des facteurs culturels et environnementaux.

I – Qu’est-ce que la socialisation ?

A – L’homme ne naît pas social, il le devient

La société impose des règles aux individus : dire bonjour, se conformer à un emploi du temps… L’homme ne naît pas social, il le devient.

B – La socialisation

La socialisation est l’apprentissage de la vie en société. Elle consiste en l’apprentissage des comportements, des valeurs et des normes sociales.

C’est le processus d’intériorisation par chacun des valeurs et des normes du groupe et de la société dont il est membre.

C’est le processus d’acquisition des connaissances, des modèles, des valeurs, des symboles, bref les “manières de faire, de penser et de sentir” propres aux groupes et à la société où l’individu est appelé à vivre.

C – Quand se fait la socialisation ?

La socialisation débute dès la naissance, se poursuit toute la vie et ne connaît son terme qu’avec la mort. Sans aucun doute, la petite enfance est-elle la période la plus intense de socialisation qui se prolonge jusqu’à l’adolescence.

Une fois passée cette période intense de socialisation, l’adulte poursuit encore sa socialisation tout le reste de sa vie : premier emploi, mariage, naissance du premier enfant, changement d’emploi, promotion, déménagement…

The first priority for the Thatcher Government in 1979 was the economy and the enterprise culture. Changes were proposed to decrease direct taxation (i.e. income tax) and increase indirect taxation (i.e. VAT). The Government also began a policy of privatisation and proposed to sell-off council houses to their tenants. A prime objective was to reduce the inflation rate which had peaked briefly over a three month period in 1976 at the equivalent rate of 27% per annum. It seemed the Government was keen to reduce the power of Local Authorities, which were often Labour, especially in the big conurbations, and increase the power of central government.

Mrs Margaret Thatcher had a clear notion of the relationship between the individual and society :

There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then to look after our neighbour. (M. Thatcher, Woman’s Own, October 31, 1987)

I was an individualist in the sense that individuals are ultimately accountable for their actions and must behave like it. But I always refused to accept that there was some kind of conflict between this kind of individualism and social responsibility. I was reinforced in this view by the writings of conservative thinkers in the United States on the growth of an ‘underclass’ and the development of a dependency culture. If irresponsible behaviour does not involve penalty of some kind, irresponsibility will for a large number of people become the norm. More important still, the attitudes may be passed on to their children, setting them off in the wrong direction.

I had great regard for the Victorians for many reasons – not least their civic spirit to which the increase in voluntary and charitable societies and the great buildings and endowments of our cities pay eloquent tribute. I never felt uneasy about praising ‘Victorian values’ or – the phrase I originally used – ‘Victorian virtues’, not least because they were by no means just Victorian. But the Victorians also had away of talking which summed up what we were now rediscovering – they distinguished between the ‘deserving’ and the ‘undeserving poor’. Both groups should be given help : but it must be help of very different kinds if public spending is not just going to reinforce the dependency culture. The problem with our welfare state was that – perhaps to some degree inevitably we had failed to remember that distinction and so we provided the same ‘help’ to those who had genuinely fallen into difficulties and needed some support till they could get out of them, as to those who had simply lost the will or habit of work and self-improvement. The purpose of help must not be to allow people merely to live a half-life, but to restore their self-discipline and through that their self-esteem.

I was also impressed by the writing of the American theologian and social scientist Michael Novak who put into new and striking language what I had always believed about individuals and communities. Mr Novak stressed the fact that what he called ‘democratic capitalism’ was a moral and social, not just an economic system, that it encouraged a range of virtues and that it depended upon co-operation not just ‘going it alone’. These were important insights which, along with our thinking about the effects of the dependency culture, provided the intellectual basis for my approach to those great questions brought together in political parlance as ‘the quality of life’. (M. Thatcher, The Downing Street Years, 1995)

The reinforcement of central government can be seen in the Conservative Government’s approach to urban policy. Thornley first mentions the Labour Government’s White Paper entitled Policy For the Inner Cities (1977) which was a serious attempt to set out and understand the causes of inner city problems. Its diagnosis was that the problem was multicausal and had to be addressed on a number of levels including economic, physical and social… However the solutions advocated were still area located. The White Paper led to the Labour Government’s Inner Urban Areas Act (1978),which set up Partnership Areas, Programme Areas and Designated Areas. When Thatcher came to power in 1979, two new and seemingly antithetical ideologies came to the fore : the market-led liberal ideology based on individualism and the authoritarian strong central state. "Both strands …agree on the limitation of ‘social citizenship rights’, that is the economic and welfare expectations that have built up within the Welfare State.

Therefore, previous initiatives in the field of urban planning were eliminated and replaced by policies which adhered to the two new strands. "The key features of this new approach to urban policy can be summarised as a greatly enhanced role for the private sector and a property-led approach to urban regeneration". This follows the notion of "the culture of enterprise". The Enterprise Zone (EZ) idea was launched originally in 1978 : it entailed identifying certain areas "where it was hoped to attract new economic activity and removing planning regulations from them". Another attraction was the ten year moratorium on local taxes. The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) was launched in1980 : a number of UDCs were set up, with responsibility for fast-track regeneration in the hands of central rather than local government, and dominated by the business sector. They were to manage and develop the Urban Development Areas (UDA). The story of Canary Wharf (Docklands) is of particular interest in this context.

The Conservative Government also introduced YTS (the Youth Training Scheme) to all those 16 and 17 year-olds not in work or education, accompanied by a subsequent withdrawal of their right to income support. This policy showed the influence of Lord Young who had read Beveridge and concluded that the balance between favouring unemployment or employment had tilted too far towards the former. According to him, it was financially more rewarding to be unemployed than to be in low-paid jobs. In1988 the term "benefit culture" gained widespread use. This right-wing idea was contested by others who pointed out that the UK was becoming a more unequal society and the institute of Fiscal Studies showed that the single unemployed were worse off in real terms in1989 than in 1979. Nevertheless, the Conservative Government set out, through YTS, a new adult training programme, an extension of the period during which people quitting their job lose benefits and the introduction of the new social fund, whose aim was to introduce discretionary loans rather than mandatory grants for the special needs of people on supplementary benefit, to reduce welfare dependency. In addition, there was the influence of the so-called guru of the American right, Charles Murray, who believed the 60s Great Society in the USA and elsewhere had not improved the lot of the poor but conversely, had made it worse, by creating an underclass. Murray, from the New York-based Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, argued that the problem of the American underclass – the unemployment, the crime and the illegitimacy that characterise American ghettos – were largely the fault of welfare programmes themselves. The policies born of compassion and guilt were flawed. People should not be told : "It’s not your fault". People were not owed a decent standard of living, it was something they had to work for. State welfare systems remove work incentives and undermine family and individual responsibility.

Murray’s ideas influenced Conservative thinking, just as the ideas of Hayek and Friedman had influenced Mrs Thatcher. It was David Willetts, Director of Studies at the Conservative Centre for Policy Studies, who propagated Murray’s ideas in Britain. In March 1987, Willetts invited Murray to a seminar with representatives of the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), the Treasury and N°10. This seminar was instrumental in shifting the emphasis of thinking away from the old agenda of integrating tax and benefits and towards the new American agenda, with a questioning of the notion of welfare dependency and how much it is right to spend on the poor. Conservatives were particularly interested in "workfare", where single mothers were obliged to work on state-run schemes in order to qualify for benefits. The proposals concerning YTS were a step in this direction.

The proposed adult training programme was also a move in this direction. Professor Patrick Minford, another monetarist, believed the scheme should be compulsory and that the Government should admit that their aim was to drive down wages. The social fund replaced existing grants to those on benefits, to cover purchases of a cooker or furniture, by discretionary loans, repayable from benefits. The social fund represented an attempt to devise a system to offer limited help for the poor while not exacerbating what was seen as their main problem, dependency. Loans would teach the poor the value of budgeting, and the discretionary factor sent out a clear signal that money was limited, with an end to the notion of "rights" and "entitlement". John Redwood, a right-wing Conservative MP, felt that these measures would have been unthinkable in the early 80s, seen as tough in the mid 80s, but accepted as common sense in the late 80s. Mrs Thatcher constantly wished to cut back on overspending, especially overspending (Labour) Local Authorities. She accused such Authorities of taxing local inhabitants and local firms to excess, with a subsequent damaging effect on employment.

It might be imagined that the devastating effect of such policies of overspending on employment would discourage Labour authorities from such action. But I never forgot that the unspoken objective of socialism – municipal or national – was to increase dependency. Poverty was not just the breeding ground of socialism : it was the deliberately engineered effect of it. (M. Thatcher, The Downing Street Years, 1995)

She therefore believed that the only way to reduce or indeed limit poverty was through elimination of the dependency culture. As regards the NHS, there was little done in the early years : in the period 1975-1982, Thatcher was not particularly sure of her position as Conservative leader to plunge herself into major reforms of a national institution which was well liked by the British public. Also, Thatcher was by no means a specialist on health matters and so was unsure of the route to follow. When she eventually set about reforming the NHS she adopted the same principles she had followed in the rest of her policies. The key idea was internal competition. In 1987, the NHS was facing a real crisis : for example, there were severe difficulties in recruiting enough nursing staff because of low pay and conditions. In 1987, Riverside Health Authority, covering central London north of the Thames, was more than 600 nurses short. For 20 years nursing had been a buyer’s market : the NHS had been besieged by young girls eager to join. It did not matter that one in three student nurses never finished the course or that a thousand gave up as soon as they passed their examinations. There were always more recruits. In the mid 80s however market forces started to thin out the ranks of nurses. With the explosion in "white blouse employment" (service industries), more and more trained young women are being employed in department stores, banking, insurance offices … And in the period 1985-1987, the Government rejected the pay increases proposed by the Nurses’ Pay review Body. The tight cash limits imposed on the public sector would be blown away if nurses were given the increase they should have received. And the private health sector in Britain, and even in the USA, is busy recruiting as many nurses in Britain as possible…

It was felt by many that the NHS had created a culture of dependency. The British Conservatives therefore set about transferring the emphasis from "dependence" to "independence", by ending the "benefit culture". They encouraged people to make provision themselves for their own health and insurance, either through company or private cover. Personal pensions and private medicine were steps in this direction. General state welfare should be targeted at those in real need ("the safety net"), the very poorest, through a new form of means test. The first area to be targeted was child benefit (a benefit which had never been means-tested) : it was frozen despite a 1987 General Election promise to maintain it. Means-tested family credit was expanded. Housing benefit was cut. The budget of 1988 reduced top-rate income tax from 46% to 40%, whilst at the same time reducing benefits for some poor families.

It has always been difficult to be rational and objective about the NHS : "The NHS is the closest thing the English (sic) have to a religion, with those who practise in it regarding themselves as a priesthood. ‘this made it quite extraordinarily difficult to reform" (N. Lawson – Chancellor of the Exchequer- , The View from Number Eleven, 1992).

In the 80s, Health Authorities were constantly forced to squeeze budgets because of direct budget restrictions on central government and local government expenditure. Demand was rising more quickly than the budgets (which actually were also rising but not enough to keep up with the higher demand). Most people, if asked, would have said that the Conservative Government had reduced expenditure on the NHS. In fact, between 1979 and1987, there was an increase of 21% in real terms. The real problem was that demand was increasing at an unstoppable rate. In 1987 the situation in the NHS was dire. Eventually charges for eye-tests and dental check-ups were introduced. Even some wards and beds were closed down. People were encouraged to take out private health insurance to be treated more quickly.

The Centre for Policy Studies, a Conservative think-tank, suggested the introduction of an "internal market", an idea launched initially by an American, Professor Alain Enthoven. The money allocated for health care should follow the patient through the system, in a similar way to the new policy on education, pursued after 1988. The new Secretary of State for health, Kenneth Clarke, suggested management by GP fund-holders : family doctors would be offered budgets within which to buy a range of services and treatments, with a limit set on the amount they could commit. Emergencies were excluded. There was opposition from many quarters including the BMA (British Medical Association). The Government replied that they were trying to get value for money and reduce waiting-lists.