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Choosing one topic only, identify the main changes in society that took place as a result of:

  1. The French Revolution
  2. The expansion of Empire
  3. The Enlightenment

Reflect on how the historical changes we have discussed during the course have impacted on your life and on contemporary society.  

You can write in the first person (use ‘I’) and contemporary society refers to the society in which you have lived the majority of your life (for example: Scottish, British, Austrian, Greek, German et cetera).   

Choose up to 3 images (e.g. photos/paintings/graphics) which represent a social movement. Referring to these images discuss either

a) Political ideologies


b) Black civil rights movement and the changes in society that these social movements sought to bring about.

Section A

The Enlightenment served to bring forth various changes in the society of Europe and Britain. The Age of Enlightenment is often associated with the French masters (Stanley 2014).  Enlightenment is defined as a movement where the human beings could extricate themselves out of the vicious circle of immaturity (Outram 2013). The leaders of Enlightenment movement chiefly focused on the power and presence of Reason. Enlightenment, as a phenomenon was primarily based on exercising the innate rationality vested in human beings. One of the chief propagandist of the Enlightenment, Immanuel Kant, propagated the idea that the rational faculty of human beings must be developed to its fullest (Outram 2013). According to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, Enlightenment demanded of the citizens to exert reason and rationality in public spaces (Owen 2013).

The Enlightenment was an immensely positive movement. The philosophers accepted that human minds can bring a drastic change in the societies and Nations. The Enlightenment movement led to the surge in myriad scientific developments and changes in the societies (Ratcliffe 2016). Scientific temperament and inventions during the Enlightenment led to the rise in the acceptance of the existence of the microorganisms (Ratcliffe 2016). Enlightenment served to broaden the mindsets of the societies concerned. With the rising acceptance of reason over accepted beliefs, Enlightenment catered to re-vamp and change the mindset of many. The Enlightenment also propagated skepticism regarding the hackneyed religious beliefs. An in-depth insight into the historical records will present the fact that the Enlightenment philosophers were concerned with the predominant ideas of liberty, fraternity and equality (Chisik 2014). During the Enlightenment period, scientists such as Newton established the rational and scientific laws that discarded the presence of God (Mason 2018). Locke’s ideas of Liberty got accepted during the period of Enlightenment. Thus, the societies underwent humongous change during and after the Enlightenment because the crucial ideas of liberty started reaching beyond the territorial boundaries (Mason 2018). The Enlightenment propagated the idea of the intrinsic and natural freedom. After this movement, people changed their mindset and started believing in their ability to exercise the innate sense of freedom.

With the discovery of the lost sense of freedom, the society and its inhabitants started exhibiting a change in their perspectives, especially in the sexual orientation and liberty. Before the period of the Enlightenment, the Church used to control and curb the sexual urges of the susceptible disciples (Foucault and Hurley 1990). During the Enlightenment period, writers and citizens started comprehending and rejecting the regressive and repressive hold of the Church over the sexual desires and fantasies. It is during this period that British writers such as Jeremy Bentham started voicing their opinion for the sexual freedom of human beings (Hekma and Giami 2014). Writers such as Sade verbalized and justified the practice of non-acceptable sexual acts (Hekma and Giami 2014). Enlightenment brought with it a radical change in the sexuality and in the exercise of sexual freedom. Needless to say, the enlightenment was often considered as the first revolution in sexual activities and fantasies (Foucault and Hurley 1990). The movement had disrupted the beliefs and ideas about sex and sexuality. Law and the church punished unnatural sexual engagements in the medieval era. With the rise in the ideas of Enlightenment, the people started freely indulging in activities.  The presence of same-sex love and attraction started getting recognized by the masses after the Enlightenment (Foucault and Hurley 1990). In the medieval ages, the Church acted like a repressive force that did allow homosexual sex. Especially during the Victorian era, sex and its related connotations were strictly prohibited to the households (Caroll 2018).The canonical laws used to punish people involved in same-sex relations (Cheng 2017). Especially in France, the strict laws pertaining to ‘unnatural sex’ was curbed which paved the way for the radical freedom of the citizens. During and after the Enlightenment, sexual activities and indulges were considered to be a normal occurrence (Caroll 2018). This had affected the societal structure of Britain because once the sexual activities were normalized; there emerged rampant cases of lecherous relationship. Due to the immensely liberal outlook of the Enlightenment, it had to suffer from serious backlash from the society and government (Foucault and Hurley 1990). In retaliation to the movement, many people demanded to return to the regressive ideals. Thus, Enlightenment had brought about many changes in the society. Be it in the form of acceptance of scientific discoveries or in the form of accepting and exercising the sexual freedom, Enlightenment injected into the society the idea of rationality and individualism.

Section B

I think that any kind of reform or change has a deep-seated effect on the world, nations, society and the self. Foucault’s History of Sexuality  had ushered in a revolution in its conception of sex and sexuality. As per my perception, any historical reform affects the temperament and psyche of a participant or a non-participant. Foucault’s book, History of Sexuality  throws light on the various changes that had taken place in society regarding the sexual orientation and views of the people. Foucault’s book also throws light on the change in sexual orientation that was brought forth by the period of Enlightenment (Foucault and Hurley 1990). The movements in the sexual revolution in the history of humankind have truly influenced me. Foucault has enlightened the minds and hearts of many, including me.  I think that the above-mentioned book had thrown light on the fact that the medieval age exercised its dogmatic rights on the sexual practices on human beings. The Church used to refrain human beings from indulging in unacceptable sexual activities.  I think that History of Sexuality could teach to the world the various problems related to dogmatic Church ideals and. I think Foucault endeavors to trace the sexual practices and changes throughout the ages. Needless to say, History of Sexuality had assisted in broadening my thought-process and perception regarding sex and sexuality.  This had taught me that any kind of sexual urge is normal and should be accepted by society and its inhabitants.  The ideas established by Foucault had taught me that sexuality cannot be repressed by any external force or influence. The liberating movements and Foucault’s ideas had impacted my life in such a manner that I view sexual acts and urge as part of the biological construct that should not be repressed at any rate.  The path-breaking book called History of Sexuality had heightened my awareness about the normal nature of the sexual fantasies and acts.

As per my opinion, History of Sexuality had also influenced and impacted the contemporary society. It had strived to break the stereotypes attached to ‘unnatural sex’. It had also normalized the existence and of intimate and coital desires. The contemporary society remains indebted to the liberating views of Foucault for freeing sexuality from the repressive clutches of the State, and the Church (Foucault and Hurley 1990). Contemporary society also remains indebted to Foucault for upholding the ideas of the movements that had revolutionized sexuality.

Belonging to the British society and lineage, I had felt the impacts of the revolutions in the mundane and contemporary world. It is due to the ideas of Foucault’s ideas that the government implemented laws related to sexual liberation of gay men. The sexual activity between two men were de-criminalized in Scotland. The sexual freedom that contemporary Britain enjoys results from the changes that have occurred throughout the Ages. The legal age for conjugal relation has been set to sixteen years old in United Kingdom (NSPCC 2018). Contemporary Britain legalized same-sex love and marriage in the year 2013 ( 2018). This is directly symptomatic of the philosophy and impacts of the various ideas and movements elaborated by Foucault in History of Sexuality.

Section C


                                         Fig 1: A representation of the Black Civil Rights Movement

                                                                      Source:  (U., 2018)


                                                Fig 2: A representation of the demands of the Blacks

                                                         Source: (Levine, Levine and Martin, 2018)


                                                                Fig 3: (Demand for Equal Opportunity)

                                                                           Source: (Dorsey, 2018) 

A closer look at the pictures will unearth the fact that the Black Civil Rights Movement was a massive revolution that had captured the hearts of many. This revolution had a worldwide reach. The figures represent and uphold the sentiments of the Black community. The placards or the poster held by the person in the first picture represents the agonies faced by the community as a whole. The third picture presents a gut-wrenching picture of a man who urges for respect and dignity from the majority. It is indeed painful to witness a fellow citizen screaming for the much deserved dignity and humanity.

Organized in the 1960s, Black Civil Rights Movement was a movement that was organized by the Blacks to eradicate racism and acquire equal rights in the political scenario. It was organized in the United States of America (Chong 2014). Though the Civil War had tried to abolish the precarious practice of slavery, the Blacks were subjected to rigorous tortures and malpractices.  The Black Civil Rights Movement was an outrage that was organized on a public scale (Chong 2014). It was an example of an action that was driven by the public spirit and demand. (Chong 2014). The Blacks were often subjected to brutal tortures and repression at the hands of the whites. Due to their skin color, the Blacks were not given the right of suffrage or equal representation in the political ambience. One of the most striking features of the Black Civil Rights movement was that it was chiefly organized and executed by economically impoverished and rural inhabitants (King 2016). This is emblematic of the fact that any revolution does not really require economically sound persons to participate.  


The tortures inflicted on the poor Blacks have also been explored in literature throughout the ages. Poets such as Langston Hughes upheld and portrayed the tortures and agonies of the innocent Blacks (Soto 2014). The civil rights movement was an attempt to demolish the existing racist temperaments of the Americans. Even after the abolition of slavery, racism continued to threaten the freedom of the Black minority in America. Racial segregation and discrimination was rampant in the southern part of America. The Black Civil Rights Movement was a form of a retaliation in against the indelible caste system in South America. The Blacks were deprived of the right to use public transport or exercise the right to vote. They were also deprived of the right to enjoy the benefits of fair and equal employment opportunities. The revolution or a civil rights movement was organized to protest against these injustices (Harris 2015). The Blacks, especially the Negros residing in America were denied the basic right and access to the idea of self-consciousness (Bois, Burghardt and Marable 2015). Needless to say, the Black Civil Rights Movement was a path-breaking movement that had helped the innocent Blacks in voicing their opinions in a constructive manner.

A closer look at the above-mentioned movement can unearth facts that project the impact of this movement on the society in which it was organized. This movement helped the Blacks in regaining the lost dignity and prestige. This movement had also helped the Blacks in attaining equal representation and equality amongst the majority of the Americans (Button 2014). The movement had resulted in certain societal changes. The movement led to the greater participation of Blacks in the political processes. The Black Civil Rights Movement also led to the enactment of Voting Rights Act in 1965 (Button 2014). The impact of the movement could be felt in the various changes that had altered the present and future of the Black minority in America. In addition to these changes, the Black Civil Rights Movement also gave birth to many organizations such as CORE  as well as SCLC , which spearheaded by the Blacks (Button 2014). Thus, it can be said that the movement brought in drastic changes among the Blacks as well as in the perception of the white majority. Prior to the above-mentioned movement, the Blacks were not considered as equal by the whites. After this movement, the Blacks could acquire an equal representation. Needless to say, the Black Civil Rights Movement cleared the path for several opportunities for the Blacks (Torres   2018). The Black Civil Rights Movement consisted of silent protests and Montgomery Bus Boycotts that assisted the Blacks in standing for their rights (Murakawa 2014). Thus, it can be said that the Black Civil Rights Movement was an important movement.


Button, J.W., 2014. Blacks and social change: Impact of the civil rights movement in southern communities (Vol. 1029). Princeton University Press.

Carroll, J.L., 2018. Sexuality now: Embracing diversity. Cengage Learning.

Cheng, D., 2017. Homosexuality in High Medieval Europe. Journal of Undergraduate Studies at Trent (JUST), 5(1), pp.73-76.

Chisick, H., 2014. The limits of reform in the enlightenment: Attitudes toward the education of the lower classes in eighteenth-century France (Vol. 837). Princeton University Press.

Chong, D., 2014. Collective action and the civil rights movement. University of Chicago Press.

Dorsey, D. (2018). It's Time to Stop Romanticizing the Civil Rights Movement and Get Real. [online] Atlanta Black Star. Available at: [Accessed 24 Dec. 2018].

Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt, and Manning Marable. Souls of black folk. Routledge, 2015.

Foucault, M. and Hurley, R. (1990). The history of sexuality. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Harris, F.C., 2015. The next civil rights movement?. Dissent, 62(3), pp.34-40.

Hekma, G. and Giami, A., 2014. Sexual revolutions: An introduction. In Sexual revolutions (pp. 1-24). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

King, D.K., 2016. Multiple jeopardy, multiple consciousness: The context of a Black feminist ideology. In Race, Gender and Class (pp. 36-57). Routledge.

Levine, M., Levine, M. and Martin, M. (2018). In North Carolina, Time Moves in Reverse Where Segregated Schools are Concerned - Non Profit News | Nonprofit Quarterly. [online] Non Profit News | Nonprofit Quarterly. Available at: [Accessed 24 Dec. 2018].

Mason, D.S., 2018. A concise history of modern Europe: liberty, equality, solidarity. Rowman & Littlefield.

Murakawa, N., 2014. The first civil right: How liberals built prison America. Oxford University Press.

NSPCC (2018). Legal definitions. [online] NSPCC. Available at: [Accessed 18 Dec. 2018].

Outram, D., 2013. The enlightenment. Cambridge University Press.

Owen, D., 2013. Maturity and modernity: Nietzsche, Weber, Foucault and the ambivalence of reason. Routledge.

Ratcliff, M.J., 2016. The quest for the invisible: microscopy in the Enlightenment. Routledge.

Soto, I., 2014. “I Knew that Spain Once Belonged to the Moors”: Langston Hughes, Race, and the Spanish Civil War. Research in African Literatures, 45(3), pp.130-146.

Stanley, B., 2014. Christian missions and the Enlightenment. Routledge.

Torres, S., 2018. Black, white, and in color: Television and black civil rights. Princeton University Press.

U., B. (2018). The African-American Movement For Civil Rights. [online] History Conflicts. Available at: [Accessed 24 Dec. 2018].

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