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The Transformation Of The United States From A Rural To An Urban Nation

2658 words - 11 pages

The 1920’s, wedged in between WW1 and the Great Depression exemplified an era of much progression but a lingering of traditionalism; nonetheless the period sparked a dramatic cultural change. With a combination of positive and negative forces, the events that characterized the era reflected American society and it’s heavy diversity. Positive forces were characterized by the economy and consumerism, women’s new sexual and political freedom, the New Negro, morality of Prohibition, while negative forces included the wealth gap, women’s traditional gender roles with bondage to child rearing sparking their support of prohibition, and the fear of the other: exercised by the Red Scare, KKK, and anti-immigrant policy.
Because of modern technological breakthroughs, a significant economic boom and ideology was made possible, yet the birth of corporations and concentration of corporate wealth eventually led to a huge wealth gap among citizens. Regarding economic growth from about 1923 to 1929, the national income rose by 150%, productivity rose by more than 60%, and corporate profits rose by more than 60%. The idea of big business was heavily intensified as Calvin Coolidge advocated “the business of America is business” ideology; because of this Americans also celebrated business as the embodiment of the highest American ideals. Pro business writer Edward Purinton in Big Ideas From Business: Try Them Out for Yourself! declared that American also stood for business, but among other things was really the salvation of the world. He writes, “What is the finest game? Business. The soundest science? Business. The truest art? Business. The fullest education? Business. The fairest opportunity? Business. The cleanest philanthropy? Business. The sanest religion? Business.” Purinton argues that business is for everyone, and everyone can and should benefit from it. For women, “nearly all manufacturing and merchandising relates somehow to the interests of women” and even “teachers, doctors, lawyers, editors, psychologists, chemists, bankers, engineers, and even philosophers” can now find employment in business houses.1 The nation and its people are allowed to be redeemed and saved from business as it is the reaction of a product of true happiness and prosperity.
Life hinged on money and the mass production of products and manipulative advertising created the era known as the “cult of consumption” but the rewards were not evenly distributed. Nine of the top twenty industries in the late 1920’s specialized in consumer goods. Products were linked with feelings of happiness and a fulfilling of emotional needs as companies needed consumers to make money – as Henry Ford stated, “mass production requires mass consumption.” Although every large city and town developed movie theatres, and people were making time to consume products and entertainment, the benefits of the economic boom were not evenly dispersed. There was a subtle increase in spending money for workers, but...

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