Welsh - Sociopolitical Organization



Wales is a principality that is governed from Whitehall in London. Since 1964, when the position of Secretary of State for Wales was established, an increasing degree of administrative autonomy for Wales has evolved. AU British political parties are represented, although the Labor Party is strongest in the industrial south. The Welsh Nationalist Party (Plaid Cymru) and other separatist groups are small but vocal. Social Organization. Wales was and remains far less classconscious than England. After the Union of 1536, whereby authority was centralized in London, the aristocrats drifted away and Wales increasingly became a land of smallholders. The Acts of Enclosure were never applied in Wales. A large liberal-oriented working class and an egalitarian middle class have emerged in the industrial south.

Political Organization. In 1974 the internal political organization of Wales was simplified and Monmouthshire, now Gwent, was transferred to Wales. Sparsely populated counties in the north and central uplands were amalgamated and Glamorgan was divided into three new counties. The eight counties were subdivided into thirty-seven districts, and Cardiff retained its status as a city and capital of Wales. Each county and administrative district has its own elected council.

Social Control. On the local level gossip, religious values, and ethnic pride are the primary means of social control. Above this, the British court system prevails. Both English and Welsh are used in the courts.

Conflict. Welsh history was dominated by centuries of military and social conflict with the English and internal dissention. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries have seen the rise of a Welsh cultural revival and ethnic consciousness in the face of a decline in the use of the Welsh language. Much of this revival has centered around the musical and literary competitions of the Welsh eisteddfod, Welsh religiosity, literary societies, and the efforts to have Welsh recognized as one of the official languages in Wales.


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