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A Brief Analysis Of The Counterculture Movement Of The 1960s

2879 words - 12 pages

A.Definitions of the CountercultureIn its most common and initial sense, the counterculture refers to the culture, especially of young people, with values or lifestyles in opposition to those of the established culture in the dictionary. Until its appearance in 1969 in Theodore Roszak's influential book, The Making of a Counter Culture, "counterculture", written as one word or two, has become the standard term to describe the cultural revolt of the young. Although distinct countercultural undercurrents exist in all societies, here the term counterculture refers to a more significant, visible phenomenon that reaches critical mass and persists for a period of time. According to Roszak's definition, the counterculture movement refers to all the protest movements that happened in America in the 1960s, including both the political movements such as the women's liberation movement, the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the antiwar movement against Vietnam, the environment movement, the gay rights movement, and the cultural "movements" as drug abuse, hippies, free sex, and rock and roll.Several explicit and dozens of implicit definitions of counterculture have been offered since the term was proposed more than three decades ago. One explicit definition that Westhue gave from the ideological and behavioral perspectives is "On the ideological level, a counterculture is a set of beliefs and values which radically reject the dominant culture of a society and prescribe a sectarian alternative. On the behavioral level, a counterculture is a group of people who, because they accept such beliefs and values, behave in such radically nonconformist ways that they tend to drop out of the society. "Another definition that Timothy Miller gave in his The Hippies and American Values defined the counterculture as "a romantic social movement of the late 1960s and very early 1970s, mainly composed of teenagers and persons in their early twenties, who through their flamboyant lifestyle expressed their alienation from mainstream American life." From this definition we can draw a conclusion that the main force of the counterculture movement is young people from middle class families.B.Social Background in the 1960sThe 1960s was a transitional period of great social change. Economically, like the 1920s and 1990s, the decade of the 1960s was a period of remarkable prosperity in the U.S. as measured by such statistics as GNP and the unemployment rate. But culturally, it was a period when long-held values and norms of behavior seemed to break down, particularly among the young. The far-reaching changes that developed in the late 1960s affected many aspects of society. Many college-age men and women became the major force of the civil rights movements. Other young people simply separated themselves from mainstream culture through their appearance and lifestyle and joined the group of hippies. Attitudes toward sexuality appeared to loosen, and women began to openly protest...

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