Conformity and Challenge

  • Created by: tomtom11
  • Created on: 24-05-16 09:54
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  • Conformity and Challenge
    • Suburban conformity
      • Irving Howe said this was an 'Age of Conformity' created by the Cold War, and conformity replace American ideals of 'Rugged Individualism'
      • Robert Lowell wrote of 'the tranquillised '50s'
      • '47-'57 = number of MC workers rose by 61%
      • William Whyte's the Organization Man = non-conformist.
        • Argued huge corporate enterprises like General Motors had created a new managerial personality- the 'organisation man'
        • Nature of suburbia threatened individualism
      • Many schools introduced classes on socially acceptable behaviour.
      • Businesses used personality tests in order to ensure social conformity.
    • Change in American TV
      • '60- 90% of US homes had TV.
      • '60s = TV favourite leisure activity for more than 50% of Americans.
      • Criticisms:
        • Promoted conformity through sexist attitudes and the 'nuclear family' in Father Knows Best
        • It promoted consumerism (youths teaching immigrant parents consumerism was good) in I Remember Mama
        • Caused decline in educational test scores, and made magazines lose sales.
        • Made viewers physically inactive and passive.
        • BUT= all designed for maximum mass appeal
        • Programmes that displeased many people were canclled= Nat King Cole Show (Nat was black)
      • Supporters of TV claimed it helped develop a more national culture, decreased social divides as well as educate
        • MLK's The Open Mind
        • News programmes presented challenged to the status quo.
    • Changes in American Film
      • Western movies often portrayed heroic men, submissive women and evil 'Indians'
      • More sexually explicit films like Baby Doll ('56) drew in big crowds.
      • Island In the Sun ('57) had first interracial kiss
      • The Defiant Ones ('58) black and white convicts chaimed together needed to co-operate to survive.
      • Imitation of Life ('59)- real heroine isn't the white actress, but the black mother who has devoted her life to the actress' neglected daughter and her own ungrateful offspring.
      • All That Heaven Allows ('55)- upper-middle widow sleeps with younger WC man.
      • Rebel Without a Cause ('55)- charismatic James Dean plays the archetypical teen struggling with the adult world and being a rebel.
    • Advertising
      • $5.7bn spent on advertising in '50 compared to $11.9bn in '60
        • Triggered by television rise.
      • Hidden Persuaders ('57)- journalist Vance Packard argued that advertisements psychologically manipulated consumers.
    • Counter-culture
      • Most adults were afraid of teenagers with 'duck-tail' hairstyles, blue jeans, and cut-off T-shirts, saying they were disrespectful.
      • Beats
        • Rejected materialism, consumer culture, and conformity
        • Wanted a lifestyle of drugs, free-love and spontaneity
        • Most well-known = Allen  Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac
        • Kerouac had a book realised in '57- On the Road- which depicted his time drifting and observing empty America.
          • Critical Acclaim
        • Ginsber wrong 'Howl'- a poem about drugs, homosexuality, and non-conformity
        • Around about 150 of them, who became writers.
        • '60s- media lost interest.
        • Follow-up version of the Beats, Beatniks, developed in '58.
          • Became almost mainstream- Kerouac didn't like them.
      • Music
        • Rock n' Roll was a widespread challenge to conformity.
        • Combined black 'race music' and hillbilly
        • Lyrics focussed on sexual activity
        • Popular with young people because:
          • Added to sense of group identity
          • They became valid consumers ($521m in '60)
        • Haters alikened them to Hitler's rallies and were worried about the increased African-American influence.


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