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SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CHANGE AFTER WW2

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Introduction

World War II produced important changes in American life; some trivial, others profound. One striking change involved fashion. To conserve wool and cotton, dresses became shorter; vests and cuffs disappeared, as did double-breasted suits, pleats, and ruffles. More significant was a tremendous increase in mobility. This set families in motion, pulling them off farms, out of small towns, and packing them into large urban areas. Urbanization had virtually stopped during the depression, but the war saw the number of city dwellers leap from 46 to 53 percent. War industries sparked the urban growth. Detroit's population exploded as the automotive industry switched to war vehicles. Washington, D.C., became another boomtown, as tens of thousands of new workers staffed the swelling ranks of the bureaucracy. The most dramatic growth occurred in California. Of the 15 million civilians who moved across state lines during the war, over 2 million went to California to work in defense industries. Women The war had a dramatic impact on women. Easily the most visible change involved the sudden appearance of large numbers of women in uniform. The military organized women into auxiliary units with special uniforms, their own officers, and, amazingly, equal pay. By 1945 more than 250,000 women had joined the Women's Army Corps (WAC), the Army Nurses Corps, Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service (WAVES), the Navy Nurses Corps, the Marines and the Coast Guard. ...read more.

Middle

job security, wages and cheap consumer goods - undreamed of standard of living * More opportunity to pursue own interests, less incentive to fight system * Stretching of working class - supervisors, technicians * Changes in production led to different strata and divisions, skilled and unskilled, immigrant labour * By 1970s some working class voting conservative * Demolition of "slum" terraces, replaced by blocks of flats - decline of community spirit * Education fuelled aspirations, blurring of class boundaries * Young adults with disposable income * Decline of traditional manufacturing in developed world * Reduced demand or replaced - coal/nuclear * Transferred to countries where labour was cheaper - steel, shipbuilding * Rise of global corporate economy - less loyalty to countries and communities Expansion of Welfare State * Great increase in state activity, directly involved in generating and controlling economic activity - 2 new accepted truths 1. Keynes' influence - social goal of full employment > social + economic policy interrelated Welfare no longer charity - benefits were a right "cradle to grave" 2. Equality of Opportunity - all citizens had a right to access healthcare, education, pensions Centrepiece was health - drop in child mortality + increased life expectancy Medical advances > rising expectations of more people * Spiralling costs > greater government spending/borrowing based on indefinite economic growth * Few governments brave ...read more.

Conclusion

Emancipation, equal opps, no need to work but to find identity + purpose, escape from kitchen sink * General change in women's expectations about themselves and society's of their place in society * Revolt of traditionally faithful women against the Church, eg Italy, Ireland - birth control * Examples of women in senior positions, even Heads of State - not possible pre-war * Women courted by Left, replacing working class * The ?s and issues raised by women came to involve everyone as revolution in cultural + moral life gained momentum Decline of Nuclear Family * Up to 1950 most societies shared several social features, formal marriage, husband's authority, senior over junior * Post 1950 big changes, sexual habits + attitudes, gay legalisation, birth control + abortion * Rise in divorce rate, living together, single parent families, adults living solo * In some places, nuclear family the exception The Cultural Revolution * Boundaries between art + non-art hazy * New fashion denying validity of objective judgement, "eye of beholder" * New criterion - what is popular? * Technology > reproducibility, music, film * Mass consumerism > mass entertainment industry, wider choice, videos, satellite * Growth + elevation of pop/rock music, new international language * Art as investment, eg Impressionists value x 23 1975-89 * Move away from individual artist to part of a team, directors, musicians * In Comm bloc artist still had a role + status, focus of dissent, needed by the people ...read more.

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