Popular Culture in Britain at the Beginning of the 1960s
In this essay I will describe the key features of popular culture in
Britain at the beginning of the 1960s. In the late 40-50s, life was
drab, uniform and restrained. People generally had a low standard of
living as a result of the Second World War. This was formally known as
austerity. There were also people during this time period who were
known as “angry young men”. These people complained about society,
without having any concrete suggestions on how things should be
improved. Popular culture is a rather broad term, but it generally
meant the changes that were associated with the 60s. This era is
famously known as “Sex, Drugs & Rock n Roll”. People were starting to
get better off as a result of full employment. Harold Macmillan quoted
in 1959: “You’ve never had it so good.” What triggered this was that
the country was gradually getting wealthier. While technology was
getting more advanced, entertainment also took a step forward.
After the war in 1945, Britain went through a difficult phase of
austerity. The country was poor but was looking forward to better
times. During this time things like televisions and refrigerators were
introduced. Up until 1954, rationing was still taking place which was
a way of distributing scarce goods by saying that no matter how much
money one has, he can only buy a certain amount each week.
This then led to full employment and affluence. By this time, things
were looking brighter for Britain as their economy was booming.
Britain prospered from the likes of new technology, such as
televisions, refrigerators and washing machines. People could suddenly
afford these things by the help of hire purchase. This is now known as
paying over instalments. Something society soon considered important
was the Pill, which allowed women more sexual freedom. Another thing
that gave women independence was the legalisation of abortions.
Teenagers in the 1950s- 1960s had a disposable income, most of it
spent on entertainment. This saw many young people dressing up on a
Friday night coming home legless the following morning, as illustrated
in the film “Saturday Night, Sunday Morning”.
A popular pop icon was the famous Elvis Presley who most teenagers
looked up to.
This resulted in a lot of people gradually being influenced by the USA
i.e. sitcoms and music.
An angry young man was generally a person that was discontent with
society, without necessarily having any concrete ideas about how
things should be improved.
In the late 1950's and early Sixties America dominated the music
industry; the British music scene, while established (Cliff Richard,
Tommy Steele, etc.), tended to imitate American trends and styles. In
the mid-fifties a breakthrough in music technology (the...