Social Change 1950-2000

Social Change 1950-2000

The Impact of Television and Mass Media

  • Post World War II, the television became a household staple, transforming the way Americans consumed news and entertainment and profoundly impacting society and culture.
  • Popular TV shows like “Leave it to Beaver” and “The Andy Griffith Show” reflected and reinforced traditional family values, gender roles and social norms.
  • The television played a significant role in shaping public opinion during significant events such as the Vietnam War and the Watergate Scandal, with broadcasts often directly challenging government narratives.
  • The mass media fostered a culture of consumerism, significantly influencing trends and lifestyle choices, leading to the creation of a ‘consumer society’.

Civil Rights and Social Activism

  • The 1950s and 60s saw the rise of the Civil Rights Movement, led by figures such as Martin Luther King Jr and groups like the NAACP, which sought to end racial segregation and discrimination.
  • Important milestones included the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-56), the March on Washington (1963), and the passing of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and Voting Rights Act (1965).
  • The Civil Rights movement inspired other forms of social activism, including the Women’s Liberation Movement, which campaigned for equal rights and opportunities for women, leading to significant gains such as the Equal Pay Act (1963).
  • The American Indian Movement (AIM) fought for the rights of Native Americans, especially during the 1970s. Key events include the Occupation of Alcatraz (1969-71) and Wounded Knee Incident (1973).

The Rise of Counterculture and Social Diversity

  • The 1960s and 70s saw the emergence of counterculture movements, such as the hippies, which rejected conventional social norms and championed peace, love, personal freedom, and environmentalism.
  • The Gay Rights Movement gained momentum, especially after events such as the Stonewall Riots (1969), promoting acceptance and equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community.
  • The end of the 20th century saw increased immigration primarily from Asia and Latin America, leading to a more diverse society. This diverse demographic pattern is reflected in the U.S Census in 2000, which showed that the Hispanic population was the largest minority group.
  • Although social divides and issues of discrimination and inequality persisted, these movements significantly transformed American society, setting the path towards a more diverse, open, and inclusive America.