Although urbanisation had been a factor in society since the time of the renaissance, the Industrial revolution, and the associated growth of capitalism and industry in Victorian times saw a massive acceleration in change within both urban and rural communities. However, this change was not merely one of an exodus from the country into the city, or a marginalisation of rural affairs at the expense of rapidly developing urban communities. Although the period from the 1830's to the 1890s undoubtedly saw a great migration from the country to the city and a greater emphasis on the development of social structures within the urban environment it is important to record equally radical changes in the development of rural society. In England particularly, the traditional figure of the "peasant" largely ceased to exist and rural communities began to develop their own sense of worth and identity along with their own "class" system. Meanwhile, the intense growth of urban dwellers proved problematic in a sociological and economic context with an increase in poverty levels, and poor living conditions among the working classes. .
Perhaps the most important factor in the evolution of both rural and urban communities was the growth of available information and mass-media and the changes in attitude that this caused. The massively increased availability of newspapers, books, parliamentary reports, scientific studies and the like, brought about by improvements in transport, technology and manufacturing processes meant that there was more information circulating within society than ever before. A documented increase in literacy also was influential. In addition, there is considerable evidence that society generally, and the middle classes particularly, felt the moral and sociological need to be educated in the ways of "other" sections of society. The influence of Darwinism and a fascination with evolutionary factors, increasing erosion in the influence of organised religion as well as a heightened awareness and interest in science also had a great effect.