Changing Attitudes to Authority: An Overview
- The period between 1951-79 marked significant changes in attitudes to authority within the UK.
- The shift was first evident amongst the baby boomer generation, post-war children reaching adolescence in the 1950s and 1960s, who questioned and challenged traditional authorities.
Emergence of Youth Culture
- The 1950s and 1960s witnessed the growth of a distinct youth culture that encouraged individualism and non-conformity.
- Popular music like rock and roll, and later, bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, played an instrumental role in shaping this culture.
- Young people started to value peer opinion more highly than traditional authority figures.
- Various protest movements reflected the changing attitudes towards authority.
- The anti-nuclear movement during the late 1950s and 1960s demonstrated a distrust in government decision-making.
- The anti-Vietnam War protests symbolised a wider questioning of governmental authority internationally.
- Women’s liberation and homosexual rights movements challenged societal norms and sought legislative changes.
- Changes in the educational system fostered a more critical thinking among the young.
- Growth in tertiary education fuelled intellectual questioning and political activism.
- The student protests of the 1960s and 1970s at universities represented a generational conflict with authority figures.
The Role of Media
- The rise of television resulted in increased access to information and different perspectives.
- Critically acclaimed satirical shows like “That Was The Week That Was” openly criticised political authority, marking a departure from the deferential era of 1950s broadcasting.
Discontent and Strikes
- The 1970s were marked by significant industrial unrest and a series of crippling strikes known as the “Winter of Discontent”.
- These strikes were indicative of the declining faith in the authority of both the state and union leadership.
- The period of 1951-79 saw a definitive shift in British attitudes towards authority with the emergence of youth culture, protest movements, and increasing industrial dissent.
- However, it’s crucial to understand that these changing attitudes did not spread evenly across society, with many sections still adhering to traditional values and authority figures.