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Life During The 1950s In America

1053 words - 5 pages

The 1950s seemed like a perfect decade. The rise of suburbs outside cities led to an expansion of the middle class, thus allowing more Americans to enjoy the luxuries of life. The rise of these suburbs also allowed the middle class to buy houses with land that used to only be owned by more wealthy inhabitants. Towns like Levittown-one of the first suburbs- were divided in such a way that every house looked the same (“Family Structures”). Any imperfections were looked upon as unfavorable to the community as a whole. Due to these values, people today think of the 1950s as a clean cut and model decade. This is a simplistic perception because underneath the surface, events that took place ...view middle of the document...

Although Capitalism was the face of American society, the role of class divisions brought to light the problems with society. In the 1950s, capitalist society was booming and profits were expanding. There was a large-scale expansion of the middle class in the 1950s. Unions became strong, comprising almost half the American workforce (“Doomsayers” 125). The need to always have a surplus of finer goods emerged rapidly in the West during the 1950s. Consumerism became a key component of Western society, as people bought big houses in the new suburbs and bought new time-saving household appliances (Dunar 290). Some appliances included those for cooking, such as the electric stove and the toaster. These appliances helped speed up cooking time, which in turn gave Americans more leisure time. Many American cultural and economic aspects such as advertising influenced this buying trend. The ability of being able to have what one wanted immediately intrigued Americans because they thought that these new inventions and shops would help them achieve a better life. These were the principles on which Capitalism was based. Americans were so invested in their capitalist system that they were confused and scared about the threat of Communism. Their thoughts were, -If things are so great here, why do others want to do something differently-?
Affluent Society is a book written by Harvard economist John Galbraith in 1958, in which he said that “America must transition from a private production economy to a public investment economy.” Galbraith brought it to the attention of the public that there was a wide gap between the rich and the poor, and that America was wealthy in the private sector and impoverished in the public. This class difference was contrary to the belief that America was a booming Capitalist society and it highlighted the divide between the old and new ideas of America. He brought this to the public because he wanted people to look at his perspective of things. Galbraith was accused of being a communist for his writings denouncing Capitalism, showing the fear that Americans had of Communism and the passion and support that they had for Capitalism. For this reason, he was...

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