To begin with, it is necessary to mention that the transformation of American society through the period of the 1960s – 1970s was subjected to serious and essential changes. Originally, these changes were reasoned by the essential changes in cultural and social spheres of life, as Black Power movements, women emancipation movements, and the youth counterculture movements shocked the United States.
Black Power Movement
The fact is that all the states were subjected to non-violent demonstrations, devoted to the civil rights movements. Originally, these movements were caused by the increased dissatisfaction among the African-American population, and, in order to gain their won rights, eradicate the issues of discrimination, strikes all over the country were arranged. As for the effects of these movements, it should be stated that all the actions contributed to the allover change of the social image of the American society. In spite of the fact that the number of racists stayed the same, the young generation realized all the uselessness and meaninglessness of racism and any type of discrimination.
In spite of the discrimination that stayed on the same level, the African-Americans received extensive freedoms. (Boyer, 2001) They were free to choose public professions, some of the music bands entered the professional stage, and the whole country could enjoy their progressive music. African-American actors got an opportunity to star in the movies etc. As for the rest of the society, black music and African traditions became rather popular. Now, whites listen to rep and reggae, are fond of VooDoo, and make African ethnic tattoos.
Women’s Liberation Movement
First of all, it should be stated that the feminist movements affected American society even more seriously than the black power movements. Women got the right to initiate the divorce process and “no-fault” divorce. Women gained the right to make their own decisions on the matters of pregnancy (contraception and abortions). Women now had the right to get more equitable salaries and access the university education.
Nasstrom (2003) states the following on this matter: “The United Nations Human Development Report 2004 estimated that when both paid employment and unpaid household tasks are accounted for, on average women work more than men. In rural areas of selected developing countries, women performed an average of 20% more work than men, or an additional 102 minutes per day. At the UN’s Pan Pacific Southeast Asia Women’s Association 21st International Conference in 2001 it was stated that “in the world as a whole, women comprise 51 percent of the population, do 66 percent of the work”
The fact is that the social climate in the USA has changed essentially throughout the historical period of the 1960s – 1970s. The steady process of occupying initially male professions by women started. It is claimed, that these processes also initiated the process of occupying leading and heading posts by women. Women were no longer secretaries, but they could occupy managing posts. Natural skills helped them to occupy analytical jobs as well.
Another factor that has essentially changed the social climate of the conservative USA is the counterculture. It was the reaction against conservative social standards of the 1950s, the Cold War, and the military intervention in Vietnam. The new idols appeared. Bob Dylan, the Beatles who supported the anti-war movements. The liberal wave has covered the whole territory of the USA, it became popular and fashionable to smoke cannabis, grow long hair (among boys), have free sex, etc.
AS for the allover consumer culture, it should be stated, that every social movement changed the image of the society thus, the way of thinking changed, which caused the changes in the consumers’ behavior. More female goods were advertised in mass media, the image of a businesswoman was broadly popularized, and more and more advertisements were targeted at women, their health, beauty, success, and their children. (Phillips, 1998)
As for the counterculture, it increased the illegal sales of cannabis, and it should be stated, that the images, associated with war and brutal force were no longer popular among customers
In conclusion, it is necessary to mention that there are numerous dimensions of the changes, and there is no space to mention each of them. The American culture was subjected to essential changes, and the three mentioned factors were the most powerful. On the other hand, they incorporated into each other, and the changes in the society linked with Black power movements empowered the effect of feminist movements, as women had the shared experience of struggling for their rights.
Counterculture changed the overall image of juvenile society. If some just smoked cannabis and had absolutely no goal, the others left their homes and chased their life goals (conservative norms generally adjudicated such escapers).
Boyer. The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People Concise. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.
Nasstrom, Kathryn L. “Sisters in the Struggle: African American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement.” Journal of Southern History 69.4 (2003): 981.
Phillips, Anne, ed. Feminism and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.