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Chapter 30 - The Affluent Society

Sources of Economic Growth
·By 1949, despite the continuing problems of postwar reconversion, an
economic expansion had begun that would continue with only
brief interruptions for almost twenty years
· The causes of this growth varied
1. Government spending continued to stimulate growth
through public funding of schools, housing, veteran’s benefits,
welfare, and the $100 billion interstate highway program
·Technological progress also contributed to the boom
1. Technological progress also contributed to the boom
a. There was the development of electronic
b. The first modern computer emerged as a result of
efforts during WWII to decipher enemy codes
c. Not until the 1980s did most Americans come into
direct and regular contact with computers, but the new
machines were having a substantial effect on the
economy long before that
·The national birth rate reversed a long pattern of decline with the socalled
baby boom
1. The baby boom meant increased consumer demand and
expanding economic growth
·The rapid expansion of suburbs helped stimulate growth in several
important sectors of the economy
·Because of this unprecedented growth, the economy grew nearly ten
times as fast as the population in their thirty years after the war
1. The American people had achieved the highest standard
of living of any society in the history of the world
The Rise of the Modern West
· No region of the country experience more dramatic changes as a
result of the new economic growth than the American West
·By the 1960s some parts of the West were among the most important
industrial and cultural centers of the nation in their own right
·As during WWII much of the growth of the West was a result of federal
spending and investment 1. Dams, power stations, highways,
and other infrastructure projects
·The enormous increase in automobile use after WWII gave a large
stimulus to the petroleum industry and contributed to the rapid
growth of oil fields in Texas and Colorado
·State governments in the West invested heavily in their universities
·Climate also contributed
The New Economics
·The exciting discovery of the power of the American economic system
was a major cause of the confident, even arrogant tone of much
American political life in the 1950s
1. There was the belief that Keynesian economics made it
possible for government to regulate and stabilize the
economy without intruding directly into the private sector
·By the mid-1950s, Keynesian theory was rapidly becoming a
fundamental article of faith
1. Armed with these fiscal and monetary tools, many
economists now believed, it was possible for the government to
maintain a permanent prosperity
·If any doubters remained, there was ample evidence to dispel their
misgivings during the era
·Accompanying the belief in the possibility of permanent economic
stability was the equally exhilarating belief in permanent
economic growth by the mid-1950s, reformers concerned about
economic deprivation were arguing that the solution lay in
increased production
·The Keynesians never managed to remake federal economic policy
entirely to their liking
1. Still, the new economics gave many Americans a
confidence in their ability to solve economic problems that
previous generations had never developed
Captial and Labor
·A relatively small number or large-scale organizations controlled an
enormous proportion oft eh nation’s economic activity
·A similar consolidation was occurring in the agricultural economy
·Corporations enjoying booming growth were reluctant to allow strikes
to interfere with their operations
·By the early 1950s large labor unions had developed a new kind of
relationship with employers
1. “Postwar Contract”
·Workers in steel, automobiles, and other large unionized industries
were receiving generous increases in wages and benefits
1. In return the unions tacitly agreed to refrain from raising
other issues
·The contract served the corporations and the union leadership well
·Many rank-and-file workers resented the abandonment of efforts to
give them more control over the conditions of their labor
·The economic successes of the 1950s helped pave the way for a
reunification of the labor movement
1. 1955, the American Federation of Labor and the
Congress of Industrial Organizations ended their 20 year rivalry
and merged to create the AFL- CIO
·But success also bread stagnation and corruption in some union
·While the labor movement enjoyed significant success in winning
better wages and benefits for workers already organized in
strong unions, the majority of laborers who were as yet
unorganized made fewer advances
1. New obstacles to organization
a. Taft-Hartley Act and the state right-to-work laws
·In the American South impediments to unionization were enormous
1. Antiunion sentiment was so powerful in the South that
almost all organizing drives encountered crushing and usually
fatal resistance
The Explosion of Science and Technology
Medical Breakthroughs
·The development of antibiotics had its origins=2 0in the discoveries of
Louis Pasteur and Jules-Francois Joubert.
·Working in France in the 1870s they produced the first conclusive
evidence that virulent bacterial infections could be defeated by
other, more ordinary bacteria.
·In 1920, in the meantime, Alexander Fleming accidentally discovered
the antibacterial properties of an organism that he named
·There was also dramatic progress in immunization-the development of
vaccines that can protect humans from contracting both
bacterial and viral diseases.
·In 1954, the American scientist Jonas Salk introduced an effective
vaccine against the disease that had killed and crippled
thousands of children and adults.
·Average life expectancy in that same period rose by five years, to 71.
·The most famous pesticides was dichlorodiphenyl-dichloromethane
[DDT] a compound discovered in 1939 by Paul Muller.
Postwar Electronic Research
·Researchers in the 1940s produced the first commercially viable
televisions and created a technology that made it possible to
broadcast programming over large areas.
·In 1948 bell Labs, the research arm of AT&T, produced=2 0the first
transistor, a solid-state device capable of amplying electrical
signals, which was much smaller and more efficient than the
cumbersome vacuum tubes that had powered most electronic
equipment in the past.
·Integrated circuits combined a number of once-separate electronic
elements and embedded them into a single, microscopically
small device.
Postwar Computer Technology
·In the 1950s computers began to perform commercial functions for
the first time, as data-processing devices used by businesses and
other organizations.
·The first significant computer of the 1950s was the Universal
Automatic Computer, which was developed initially for the U.S
Bureau of the Census by the Remington Rand company.
Bombs, Rockets, and Missles
·In 1952, the U.S successfully detonated the first hydrogen bomb.
·The development of the hydrogen bomb gave considerable impetus to
a stalled scientific project in both the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
The Space Program
·The Shock of Sputnik , th e united states had yet perform any similar
feats , and the American government (and much of American
society ) reacted to the announcement with alarm , as if the
Soviet achievement was also a massive American failure .
·The centerpiece of space exploration , however . soon became the
manned space program , established in 1958 through the
creation of a new agency , the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA ) and through the selection of the first
American space pilots , or “astronauts”
· They quickly became the nation’s most revered heroes .
· The Apollo Program , Mercury and Gemini were followed by the Apollo
program , whose purpose was to land men on the moon .
· July 20 , 1969 , Neil Armstrong , Edwin Aldrin , and Michael Collins
successfully traveled in a space capsule into orbit around the
moon .
· Armstrong and Aldrin , and Michael then detached a smaller craft from
the capsule , landed on the surface of the moon , and became
the first men to walk on a body other than earth .
People of Plenty
The Consumer Culture
· At the center of middle-class culture in the 1950s was a growing
absorption with consumer goods
· It was a result of:
1. Increased prosperity
2. Increasing variety and availability of products
3. Advertiser’s adeptness in creating a demand for those
4. A growth of consumer credit
To a striking degree, the prosperity of the 1950s and 1960s was
consumer driven
· Because consumer goods were so often marketed nationally, the
1950s were notable for the rapid spread of creation national
consumer crazes
The Suburban Nation
· By 1960 a third of the nation’s population was living in suburbs
· The most famous of the postwar suburban developers, William Levitt,
came to symbolize the new suburban growth with his use of
mass-production techniques to construct a large housing
development on Long Island, NY
1. They helped to meet an enormous demand for housing
that had been growing for more than a decade
· Many Americans wanted to move to the suburbs
1. One reason was the enormous importance postwar
Americans place on family life after five years of war in which
families had often been separated or otherwise disrupted
2. They provided privacy
3. A place to raise a large family
4. They provided security from the noise and dangers of
urban living
5. They offered space for the new consumer goods
6. Suburban life also helped provide a sense of community
· Suburban neighborhoods
1. They were not uniform
The Suburban Family
· For professional men, suburban life generally meant a rigid division
between their working and personal worlds
· For many middle-class married women, it meant an increase isolation
from the workplace
· One of the most influential books in postwar American life was a
famous guide to child rearing
1. Baby and Child Care
a. Said that the needs of the child come before
everything else
b. Women who could afford not to work faced heavy
pressures to remain in the home and concentrate on
raising their children
c.  Yet by 1960, nearly a third of all married women
were in the paid workforce
· The increasing numbers of women in the workplace laid the
groundwork for demands for equal treatment by employers that
became and important part of the feminist crusades of the 1960s
and 1970s
The Birth of Television
· Television is perhaps the most powerful medium of mass
communication in history
· The television industry emerged directly out of the radio industry
· Like radio, the television business was driven by advertising
· The impact of television on American life was rapid, pervasive, and
1. Television entertainment programming replace movies
and radio as the principal source of diversion for American
· Much of the programming of the 1950s and early 1960s created a
common image of American life
1. An image that was predominately white, middle-class,
and suburban
2. Programming also reinforced the concept of gender roles
3. Television inadvertently created conditions that could
accentuate social conflict
Travel, Outdoor Recreation, and Environmentalism
Organized Society and Its Detractors
· Large-scale organizations and bureaucracies increased their influence
over American life in the postwar era
·More and more Americans were becoming convinced that the key to a
successful future lay in acquiring the specialized training and
skills necessary for work in large organizations
1. The National Defense Education Act of 1958
a. Provided federal funding for development of
programs in those areas of science, mathematics, and
foreign languages
2. As in earlier eras, many Americans reacted to these
developments with ambivalence, even hostility
·Novelists expressed misgivings in their work about the enormity and
impersonality of modern society
The Beats and the Restless Culture of Youth
·The most derisive critics of bureaucracy, and of middle-class society
in general, were a group of young poets, writers, and artists
generally known as the “beats” – beatniks
·The beats were the most visible evidence of a widespread
restlessness among young Americans in the 1950s
·In part, that restlessness was a result of prosperity itself
1. Tremendous public attention was directed at the
phenomenon of “juvenile delinquency” and in both politics and
popular culture there were dire warnings about the growing
criminality of American youth
·Also disturbing to many older Americans was the style of youth
1. The culture of alienation that the beats so vividly
represented had counterparts even in ordinary middle-class
a. Teenage rebelliousness toward parents, youthful
fascination with fast cars and motorcycles, and an
increasing visibility of teenage sex, assisted by the
greater availability of birth-control devices and the
spreading automobile culture that came to dominated the social
lives of teenagers in much of the nation
2. The popularity of James Dean was a particularly vivid
sign of this aspect of youth culture in the 1950s
a. Dean became an icon of the unfocused
rebelliousness of American youth in his time
Rock 'n' Roll
·One of the most powerful signs of the restiveness of American youth
was the enormous popularity of rock ‘n’ roll and of the greatest
early rock star
1. Elvis Presley
a. Presley became a symbol of a youthful
determination to push at the borders of the
conventional and acceptable
b. Presley’s music, like that of most early white rock
musicians, drew heavily from black rhythm and blues
c. Rock also drew from country western music, gospel
music, even from jazz
·The rise of such white rock musicians as Presley was a result in part of
the limited willingness of white audience to accept black
·The rapid rise and enormous popularity of rock owed a great deal to
innovations in radio and television programming
1. Early in the 1950s, a new breed of radio announcers
began to create programming aimed specifically at young fans
of rock music
a. Disk Jockeys
·Radio and television were important to the recording industry because
they encouraged the sale of records
1. Also important were jukeboxes
·Rock music began in the 1950s to do what jazz and swing had done in
the 1920s – 40s
1. To define both youth culture as a whole and the
experience of a generation
The "Other America"
On the Margins of the Affluent Society
·In 1962, The Other America was published
a. Chronicles of the continuing existence of poverty in
·The great economic expansion of the postwar years reduced poverty
dramatically but did not eliminate it
·Most of the poor experience poverty intermittently and temporarily
·This poverty was a poverty that the growing prosperity of the postwar
era seemed to affect hardly at all
Rural Poverty
·Among those on the margins of the affluent society were many rural
·Not all farmers were poor
1. But the agrarian economy did produce substantial
numbers of genuinely impoverished people
·Migrant farm workers and coal miners fell to the same kind of poverty
The Inner Cities
·As white families moved from cities to suburbs in vast numbers, more
and more inner-city neighborhoods became vast repositories for
the poor
1. Ghettos from which there was no easy escape
a. African Americans helped this growth
·Similar migrations from Mexico and Puerto Rico expanded poor
Hispanic barrios in many American cities at the same time
·For many years, the principal policy response to the poverty of inner
cities was “urban renewal”
1. The effort to tear down buildings in the poorest and
most degraded areas
a. In some cases, urban renewal provided new public
housing for poor city residents
b. In many cases, urban renewal projects replaced
“slums” with middle and upper-income housing, office
towers, or commercial buildings
·One result of inner-city poverty was a rising rate of juvenile crime
The Rise of the Civil Rights Movement
The Brown Decision and "Massive Resistance"
·On May 17, 1954 the Supreme Court announced its decision in the
case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
1. Ruled that segregation in schools was unconstitutional
·The Brown decision was the culmination of many decades of effort by
black opponents of segregation
·The Topeka suit involved the case of an African-American girl who had
to travel several miles to a segregated public school every day
even though she lived virtually next door to a white elementary
1. The Court concluded that school segregation inflicted
unacceptable damage on those it affected
·The following year, the Court issued another decision to provide rules
for implementing the 1954 order
1. It ruled that communities must work to desegregate
their schools “with all deliberate speed,” but it set no
timetable and left specific decisions up to lower courts
·Strong local opposition produced long delays and bitter conflicts
1. More than 100 southern members of Congress signed a
“manifesto” in 1956 denouncing the Brown decision and
urging their constituents to defy it
·Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham Board of Education (1958)
1. Refused to declare “pupil placement laws”, placing a
student in a school based on academic or social behaviors,
·The Brown decision, far from ending segregation, had launched a
prolonged battle between federal authority and state and local
governments, and between those who believed in racial equality
and those who did not
·In 1957, federal courts had ordered the desegregation of Central High
School in Little Rick, Arkansas
1. An angry white mob tried to prevent implementation of
the order by blockading the entrances to the school
2. President Eisenhower responded by federalizing the
National Guard and sending troops to Little Rock to restore
order and ensure that the court orders would be obeyed
The Expanding Movement
·The Brown decision helped spark a growing number of popular
challenges to segregation in the South
·December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama,
when she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a
white passenger
1. The arrest of this admired woman produced outrage in
the city’s African-American community and helped local
leaders organize a successful boycott of the bus system to
demand an end to segregated seating
2. The bus boycott put economic pressure not only on the
bus company but on many Montgomery merchants
a. The bus boycotters found it difficult to get to
downtown stores and tended to shop instead in their own
·A Supreme Court decision in 1956 declared segregation in public
transportation to be illegal
·More important than the immediate victories of the Montgomery
boycott was its success in establishing a new form of racial
protest and in elevating to prominence a new figure in the
movement for civil rights
1. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
a. King’s approach to black protest was based on the
doctrine of nonviolence
b. He urged African Americans to engage in peaceful
2. The popular movement he came to represent soon
spread throughout the South and throughout the country
·One important color line had been breached as early as 1947, when
the Brooklyn Dodgers signed the great Jackie Robinson as the
first African American to play Major League Baseball
·President Eisenhower signed a civil rights act in 1957
1. Providing federal protection for blacks who wished to
register to vote
Cause of the Civil Rights Movement
·Several factors contributed to the rise of African-American protest in
these years
1. Millions of black men and women had served in the
military or worked in war plants during the war and had
derived from the experience a broader view of the world
and their place in it
2. Another factor was the growth of an urban black middle
3. Television and other forms of popular culture were
another factor in the rising consciousness of racism among
·Other forces were at work mobilizing many white Americans to
support the movement once it began
1. The Cold War
2. Political mobilization of northern blacks
3. Labor unions with substantial black memberships
· By the early 1960s, this movement had made it one of the most
powerful forces in America
Eisenhower Republicanism
"What was Good for...General Motors"
· The first Republican administration in 20 years was staffed mostly
with men drawn from the same quarter as those who had staffed
Republican administrations in the 1920s
1. The business community
· Many of the nation's leading businessmen and financiers ha
reconciled themselves to at least the broad outlines of the
Keynesian welfare state the New Deal had launched and had
come to see it as something that actually benefited them
· To his cabinet, Eisenhower appointed wealthy corporate lawyers and
business executives
· Eisenhower’s leadership style helped enhance the power of his
cabinet officers and others
· Eisenhower’s consistent inclination was to limit federal activities and
encourage private enterprise
The Survival of the Welfare State
· The president took few new initiatives in domestic policy
· Perhaps the most significant legislative accomplishment of the
Eisenhower administration was the Federal Highway Act of 1956
1. Authorized $25 billion for a ten-year effort to construct
over 40,000 miles of interstate highways
2. The program was to be funded through a highway “trust
fund” whose revenues would come from new taxes on the
purchase of fuel, automobiles, trucks, and tires
· In 1956, Eisenhower ran for a second term
1. Republicans – Adlai Stevenson
2. Eisenhower won
· Democrats still held power over Congress
The Decline of McCarthyism
· In its first years in office the Eisenhower administration did little to
discourage the anticommunist furor that had gripped the nation
· Among the most celebrated controversies of the new administration’s
first year was the case of J. Robert Oppenheimer
1. He opposed the building of the Hydrogen Bomb
2. In 1953, the FBI distributed a dossier within the
administration detailing Oppenheimer’s prewar association
with various left-wing groups
a. In 1953, the FBI distributed a dossier within the
administration detailing Oppenheimer’s prewar
association with various left-wing groups
· But by 1954, such policies were beginning to produce significant
1. The clearest signal of that change was the political
demise of Senator Joseph McCarthy
a. He overstepped his boundaries when he charged
Secretary of Army Robert Stevens
b. Army-McCarthy hearings
2. In December 1954, he was condemned for “conduct
unbecoming a senator”
Eisenhower, Dulles, and the Cold War
Dulles and "Massive Retaliation"
· Eisenhower’s secretary of state, and the dominant figure in the
nation’s foreign policy in the 1950s, was John Foster Dulles
· He entered office denouncing the containment policies of the Truman
1. Arguing that the United States should pursue an active
program of “liberation” which would lead to a “rollback” of
communism expansion
· “Massive Retaliation”
1. The United States would, he explained, respond to
communist threats to its allies not by using conventional forces
to local conflicts but by relying on “the deterrent of massive
retaliatory power” (nuclear weapons)
· By the end of the decade, the United States had become a party to
almost a dozen such treaties of mutual defense in NATO in all
areas of the world
France, America, and Vietnam
Cold War Crisis
Europe and the Soviet Union
· Although the problems of the Third World were moving slowly to the
center of American foreign policy, the direct relationship with the
Soviet Union and the effort to resist communist expansion in
Europe remained the principal concerns of the Eisenhower
· In 1955, Eisenhower and other NATO leaders met with the Soviet
premier, Nikolai Bulganin, at a cordial summit conference in
1. They could find no basis for agreement
· Relations between the Soviet Union and the West soured further in
1956 in response to the Hungarian Revolution
1. Hungarians were demanding democratic reforms
a. Soviets came in to crush the uprising
2. The suppression of the uprising convinced many
American leaders that Soviet policies had not softened as much
as the events of the previous two years had suggested
·The failure of conciliation brought renewed vigor to the Cold War and
greatly intensified the Soviet-American arms race
·The arms race not only increased tensions between the United States
and Russia
1. It increased tensions within each nation as well
The U-2 Crisis
·In this tense and fearful atmosphere, the Soviet Union raised new
challenges to the West in Berlin
·In November 1958, Nikita Khrushchev renewed his predecessors’
demands that NATO powers abandon the city
1. The United States and its allies refused
·Khrushchev suggested that he and Eisenhower discuss the issue
1. The United States agreed
·Only days before Eisenhower was to leave for Moscow the Soviet
Union announced that it had shot down an American U-2, a spy
plane, over Russian territory
·By the spring of 1960, Khrushchev knew that no agreement was
possible on the Berlin issue
·The events of 1960 provided a somber backdrop for the end of the
Eisenhower administration
·He warned in his farewell address of 1961 of the “unwarranted
influence” of a vast “military-industrial complex”
1. His caution, in both domestic and international affairs,
stood in marked contrast to the attitudes of his successors, who
argued that the United States must act more boldly and
aggressively on behalf of its goals at home and abroad

Subject X2: 

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