History Post War America Post War American Society and Economy REVISION…
Post War America
Post War American Society and Economy REVISION USA 1920-1973
Had more leisure/spending time than previous generations.
They never had their own boom
By the 1950's, the term became associated with rebellion as youths were seen to act against parents and society by setting up their own standards.
Teenage movie star: James Dean
Rock and Roll
The new 'beat music' from the 1940's transformed into rock and roll in the 1950's
Because of the spread of music, artists like Elvis Presley rose to fame. Parents disapproved.
1948: 0.4% of household owned one
1954: 55.7% of household owned one
1958: 83.2% of household owned one
Replaced reading, radios and the cinema
Dominated commercial sponsors all trying to encourage spending in the consumer society e.g game shows, sit coms, soap operas etc
Consumerism and the causes of prosperity
Rapid economic growth: During the 1950's, America was producing nearly half the worlds goods.
USA didn't suffer any mainland bomb damage unlike all its industrial competitors
The total value of good and services produced (GNP) meant they were willing to spend more
The American Dream
The idea of a perfect lifestyle, family etc
Shopping became a popular recreational activity
The standard of living was three time better than in Britain
Many modern conveniences became accepted as normal
Attitudes to spending and buying:
Steadily increased wealth lead to more purchases
Spending rather than saving was accepted as normal
1950's was marked as the gradual acceptance that goods were only expected to last a few years then replaced
Spread of wealth: 1950's -
Spread more down the social scale
Advertising in magazines and newspapers was still important as well as television. Many people could afford this now.
After WW2, the fear of the 'red scare' was heightened as the Russians control of Eastern Europe was consolidated. In 1949, China also fell to communism.
Because of this Americans began to suspect anyone who did not display the so called American virtues of patriotism, freedom and enterprise, as a communist.
Even the US Congress set the house of Committee of un-american activists to investigate communist involvement.
Senator Joe McCarthy started a campaign against possible communists using half-truths, rumours, smears and lies. He put innocent people on trail and found them guilty with no real evidence.
Fears were also heightened in the 1950's due to the Korean War
A senate sub committee investigated and found McCarthy to be an 'irresponsible bully', as he had caused so much damage to peoples lives and USA's reputation.
He was also close with the FBI, especially the director. They used surveillance on over 1 million suspects and on civil rights leaders like MLK