The Social Normalization of Belgium, 1945–1947

Martin Conway

in The Sorrows of Belgium

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199694341
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738401 | DOI:
The Social Normalization of Belgium, 1945–1947

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The war changed social power in Belgium. The industrial working class were the principal losers of the war years, while the middle classes and the rural population emerged from the Occupation with greater social authority. This shift in power was manifested in the strike waves which occurred in the post-liberation years, as well as the emergence of new powerful pressure groups representing middle-class and rural interests. At the same time, the war affected relations between the genders and the generations. If the war did not overturn the gendered order in Belgium, it did change that order, and created spaces for new female self-expression. The problem of youth, perceived to be asocial and un-political, reflected a wider loosening of social constraints brought about by the war, and contributed to the sense of a more individualist society.

Keywords: War; social change; working class; middle class; farmers; youth; women; gender,  individualism; crime

Chapter.  19398 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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