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The Fifties – Domestic Social. Post WWII. Although the title of this is “The Fifties”, it is not just the 1950s Post WWII: 1945 to 1963 Why 1963 as a stopping point? Baby Boom Why an increase in the number of children born in this time period?. Business Boom.

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Post wwii

  • Although the title of this is “The Fifties”, it is not just the 1950s

  • Post WWII: 1945 to 1963

    • Why 1963 as a stopping point?

  • Baby Boom

    • Why an increase in the number of children born in this time period?

Business boom
Business Boom

  • After a short post-war recession (why?), overall great growth.

    • Employment Act of 1946 – goal of full employment due to recession

      • What does that show?

  • Growth of White Collar jobs

    • How did the GI Bill contribute to this?

  • What about women in the workplace?

  • How did the savings/ration system during the war contribute to the unprecedented prosperity of the 1950s?

  • 2 business types emerge in the 50s
    2 Business types emerge in the 50s



    a corporation consisting of a number of sub-companies or divisions in a variety of unrelated industries, usually as a result of merger or acquisition.

    • the right or license granted by a company to an individual or group to market its products or services in a specific territory

    Labor unions
    Labor & Unions

    • Post-war inflation affected workers which salaries did not keep up

    • 1946 over 4.5 million workers went on strike

      • When mine workers threatened to strike, Truman threaten action

    • Taft-Hartley Act (passed in 1947)

      • Outlawed Closed Shop

      • Permitted states to pass laws to become Right-to-work states

      • Outlawed secondary strikes (strikes by other unions not involved)

      • President could declare 80 day “cooling off period”

      • Truman vetoed bill, but was overridden

    • 1955 AFL and CIO would reunify

    • Peak of Union involvement would be in early 1950s

      • Since then the effects of Taft-Hartley have lessened their power

    • How did the “right-to-work” laws help the south?

    Rise of the sunbelt
    Rise of the Sunbelt

    • Population shift from The “Rustbelt” to the “Sunbelt”

      • Effects of the New Deal Projects and WWII

      • Defense-related industries built during Cold War

      • Effects of Air Conditioning

    • Would continue to modern-day

    The suburbs
    The Suburbs

    • Rapid growth of suburbia in the Post-WWII era

      • In a single generation, the majority of middle-class Americans became suburbanites

    • Effects of GI Bill

    • Effects of Baby Boom

    • Effects of Depression and WWII savings

    • Effects of Interstate Highway Act

    • Levittowns – mass produced housing

    • White Flight

      • What happened in the inner cities?

    Automania i
    Automania I

    • Federal Highway Acts

      • Eisenhower Interstate system

      • Why was it made?

      • What is the numbering system?

      • What is “death by Interstate?”

    Automania ii
    Automania II

    • How did the Interstates help to expand suburbs?

    • How did the Interstates not only help expand the Automobile Industry, but also lessen the power of the Railroads?

    • How did the Interstates help create a more “homogenous” U.S.?

    • Other Effects:

      • Vacations

      • Motels

      • Consumerism

      • “Youth Culture”

    Economic prosperity
    Economic Prosperity

    • Between 1945 and 1960, pre-capita disposable income tripled

    • Post-War standard of living was the highest in the world

    • Would help add to a consumer culture

      • Planned Obsolescence – “throwaway society”

      • New Products

      • Advertising Age (TV effects)


    • By the end of the 1950s, TV became a center of family life for many

      • I Love Lucy, Father Knows Best, Bandstand, Ozzie and Harriet

      • Mickey Mouse Club, Lassie, Flintstones, Leave it to Beaver

      • 3 National networks dominated (ABC, CBS, NBC)

      • “vast wasteland” by FCC Chairman Newton Minnow

      • How was the culture portrayed on TV?

      • How does it affect language and “homogenous culture?”

    Music radio and records
    Music, Radio and Records

    • Rock n Roll emerges

      • Blend of black R&B and white country music

      • Elvis Presley

    • Payola Scandal – corporate payoffs of DJs

    • LPs – “Long Playing” records

    • 45s – smaller records

    Leisure time
    Leisure Time

    • Why did Americans have more leisure time?

    • That combined with more disposable income lead to what?

      • Sports grow

        • Passive – watching (baseball, football)

        • Active – actually involved (bowling, hunting, fishing, golf)

      • TV

      • Dime stores/shopping

      • Vacations

    Family time
    Family Time

    • Dr. Benjamin Spock’s book on raising children

    • Dr. Jonas Salk – Polio vaccine

    • Organized religion expands dramatically (“great awakening?”)

      • Membership in church part of identity and socialization

    • Women roles

      • Seen in traditional view

      • Paid less than men

      • Early feminist movement brewing

        • How does I Love Lucy show this?

    The critics
    The Critics

    • Beatniks / Beat Movement– criticized conformity in modernsociety

      • Allen Ginsberg – Howl – rebellion against societal standards

      • Jack Kerouac – criticized materialism and conformity

      • J.D. Salinger – Catcher in the Rye– alienation and conformity of youth

    • David Riesman (sociologist) – individualism replaced with conformity

    • Michael Harrington – The Other America

      • Plight of the Urban and Rural poor