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Date of Award

10-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

Supervisor

Stephen Heathorn

Co-Supervisor

Martin Horn

Abstract

This investigation contributes to the existing scholarship on Britain and the First World War by examining the war's impact on the county of Devon in southwest England. More specifically, this study pays particular attention to how communities, families, and individuals responded to the pressures of war and to what extent social unity was achieved at the county level. By exploring the relationship between the state and its citizens, this dissertation questions the extent to which Devonians were passive and accepting of the sacrifices and hardships that the government required from them, how their experiences were informed, and to what extent class, gender, and religious differences limited public support for the war? While this dissertation argues that Devonians were generally supportive of British participation in the war, that support was provisional and based on the perception of 'equality of sacrifice' - the expectation that the burdens of war would be shared equally throughout the county and across all segments of society. This study reveals that the inequalities of sacrifice and inconsistencies of government policies burdened some groups more than others and led to social disaffection. Rather than promoting solidarity, the war often exacerbated rural/urban tensions, highlighted the social and economic divisions that characterized relations between the communities of northern and southern Devon, and led to frequent and public criticisms of the government's management of the war.

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