English - 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.


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