Research Paper: Social and Political Cultures of the 1960s,1970s

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¶ … social and political cultures of the 1960s,1970s,and 1980s. How are they similar? How are they different? use specific examples from each decade. You must use at least 2 outside resources ( journals or books only no Internet sites. Key words: revolutionary, peaceful, corrupt, turmoil, prosperous, activist, radical, innovative.

Social and Political Cultures of the 60,70s and 80s

The world we know today is the result of endless processes of change commenced millennia ago. While all the years are crucial for the formation of society, a distinctive period in the formation of the American society is represented by three consecutive decades -- the 1960s, the 1970s and the 1980s. Two particular areas of interest are constituted by the social and political climates.

Social culture in 1960s' United States

In the 1960s decade, the United States of America was presented with several of the results implemented by the New Deal. The set of reforms was commenced during the 1930s decade, in the aftermath of the economic recession ended in 1933. Three decades later, the reforms had taken full effect and they were impacting both the political as well as the social climates in the North American country. "The New Deal had brought basic changes to American society, including a dramatic increase in the role and power of the federal government, the rise of organized labor as a significant force in the economy and state politics, the beginning of a welfare state, and a grudging realization of the needs to deal fairly with the concerns of minorities" (Spielvogel, 2008).

2. Political culture in the 1960s

During the 1960s decade, the American political field was largely subjected to the ideals in Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, through which the vision of prosperity was sought. The United States officials were implementing a series of economic reforms through which it was expected for the national economy to revive and overcome the financial crash of the Great Depression (1929-1933).

The 1960s decade also witnessed the election of J.F. Kennedy, and his untimely death in 1963, which deepened social and political turmoil. The successors strived to combine Kennedy's efforts in the development of strong international policies and foreign relations with Roosevelt's New Deal. "Lyndon B. Johnson, […] used his stunning mandate to pursue what he called the Great Society, heir to the welfare state first begun in the New Deal. Johnson's programs included health care for the elderly, a "war on poverty" to be fought with food stamps and the new Job Corps, the new Department of Housing and Urban Development to deal with the problems of the cities, and federal assistance for education" (Spielvogel, 2008).

3. Social culture in the 1970s

The 1970s decade was more complex from a social standpoint. The population had overcome the difficulties of the Great Depression and was seeking new ways to reaffirm itself. The '70s enforced the pop culture, the sense of individuality and leisure time. "From the tongue-snapping pop rocks to the passively owned pet rocks, and from the introspective mood rings to the exhibitionistic fad to streaking […] the 1970s were trendy times" (Sagert, 2007).

The emancipation of the minorities was strong during the 1970s and several movements were initiated to enforce the right of other issues as well. During the decade for instance, the first important environmentalist protection campaigns were developed and a series of anti-war campaigns were also fought by activists.

4. Political culture in the 1970s

Aside the "fanciness" of the 1970s, the years were also the ones to witness great innovations in technology, science, economics and politics. One result was the lending of men on the Moon. The people were however presented with fewer employment opportunities and their living standards decreased. Combined with the international situation, the United States citizens lost their trust in the government.

The political climate of the decade was marked by the triumph of democracy, which allowed the masses to express their opinions. But the increased freedom of the population put additional pressures on the policy makers and weakened their power. "Minorities, women, environmentalists and consumer advocates forced policy subsystems to come to terms with new interests and new perspectives. Political and policy information became more accessible. At the same time, the ability of the political system to solve problems seemed to evaporate. Parties weakened. Interest groups proliferated. Public and private hierarchies lost authority. Vietnam, Watergate and the perceived weakness of Presidents Ford and Carter undermined the belief in the strong presidency widely shared since 1940. Congress reasserted its influence, but centrifugal forces made decisive congressional action even more difficult. By the end of the 1970s, American policy making had become much more tentative and conditional" (Robertson, 1998).

5. Social culture in the 1980s

The eighties, as they are often referred to, were a period in which the freedom through democracy was continually enforced. Despite the individual poverty of the previous decade, the 1980s were the ones in which the technological advancements registered major results. While in the 1970s, these innovations were only revolutionary in the fields themselves, during the 1980s, they were integrated within the society. The direct result was that of increased living standards for the population. A relevant indicator of this is the median age of the population, which was of 30.0 years, two years higher than the median age of the previous decade (Peck and Hollingsworth, 1996).

The 1980s maintained the trend set during the 1970s, in which the focus on collective wealth was replaced with the focus on individual wealth and well-being. With the opening of boundaries, the number of immigrants increased but the ability to integrate them within the society decreased. This led to the formation of the underclass of citizens (Norton, Sheriff, Blight and Katzman, 2009).

6. Political culture in the 1980s

The liberalization which marked the society of the 1980s was also present within the political field. During the decade, efforts were made in the direction of consolidated relationship with various international players. A particular application of the increased liberalization was the creation of outsourcing opportunities. This virtually meant that the United States entrepreneurs were able to contract foreign companies and complete projects with increased cost efficiencies. While it was not immediately recognized, the situation would deepen the socio-economic problem of unemployment within the North American country.

The trust in the political system had decreased due to higher levels of corruption, but also due to the increased number of deaths among the American troops involved in global wars. Several groups of radicals were formed to further militate against the politics of war and environmentalist threat.

7. Comparison

1960s

1970s

1980s

Social culture

- in emergence and development

- focused on national welfare and minorities' rights

-sense of freedom from both worry as well as discrimination

- focus on pleasure

- activist movements

- continued liberalization

- loss of trust in politics

- socio-economic hierarchies

Political culture

- influenced by the Great Depression

- focused on national welfare

- conflicting and marked by both innovations as well as failures

- emphasis on international relations

The 1960s decade was market -- both socially as well as politically -- by the political and individual fear of a repeating recession. Due to this fear, the politics had changed in the sense of taking a more prudential approach which would ensure economic stability and peaceful politics. After three decades of intense reforms, the 1960s revealed the major results of the actions to reform the United States society and political field. From a social standpoint, it represented a turning point due to the realization of the importance in managing the minorities' issues. It was also during this decade that the feminist movement gained momentum.

The 1970s was almost opposed to the previous one in the meaning that it did not focus on national prosperity and common wealth. It focused on individuality, on risk and on innovation. The world was filled with innovations and it neglected the protectionist values of the past years. But in this approach, as the society evolved, its members devolved; they became more segregated and significant income inequalities were created.

During this period also, the population found its voice and became better able to voice its concerns and demands, whether these related to military campaigns of the country or the human threat upon the natural environment. All these aspects represented evolutions when compared to the 1960s, but the populations' living standards had decreased as the focus was no longer placed on the wealth of all, but on the richness of the few. The 80s were similar and marked by the same trend of individuality, but the wealth of the overall state lost importance.

At an overall level, from both the social and the political standpoints, the 1960s decade represented the overcoming of the previous problems posed by the Great Depression. The people were still cautious and the politicians were still strong. Throughout the following decade however, the buzzword was that of emancipation of all -- women, racial minorities, environmentalist, mass opinion and so on. But… [END OF PREVIEW]

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