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Anxiety and Affluence .pdf

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University of Toronto St. George
Professor Candace Sobers

ANXIETY AND AFFLUENCE INTRODUCTION : A “P REPONDERANCE OR P OWER ” •A Preponderance of Power means you are overwhelming more powerful than your adversaries •The US transformed itself into the National Security State -- this is a hallmark of American history in this century •As powerful as it is, the US is still nervous and scared in the world T HE A GE OF AFFLUENCE : THE 1950 S AND THE A MERICAN D REAM •During the war, production is at an all time high -- there is no outlet for prosperity •Ordinary citizens became really concerned about how to maintain this level of prosperity •They were also concerned with how to find jobs for the veterans •These industries and technologies help develop the west and the south THE BOYS C OME HOME •Truman wanted to demobilize -- didn’t want to keep the US on a permanent war footing •Worried about the mental health -- burgeoning in psychology •How was the economy going to help all these men -- 1.6 million got laid off from their jobs before the soldiers came home •Created the GI Bill in 1944 -- designed to help soldiers transition into society •Benefits available to every servicemen if you served for at least 90 days •Political goal: to avoid the bonus March in 1922 1956 -- 6 million WW2 veterans used the bill for training or to go to college • When people go to school there is not much tension on the job market • •This also gives the veterans new skills -- moving into more white collar jobs •This worried the educated elite BABY B OOM •During the Great Depression the birth rate dropped, but after the war it increased by 150% •Important because this is the generation that is going to change American society -- live longer and more affluent SUBURBIA These new families cannot go to the cities -- there is no room in the cities •Levit created mass produced homes, which allowed for suburbia • •They are an amazing transformation •Allow people to move out of crowded cities •Allow people to live closer to the cities if you lived in the countryside before •For suburbs to work you need highways and cars ANXIETY AND AFFLUENCE • You also need the money to buy the houses -- the GI Bill gave veterans really really low mortgages • Making the suburbs a success • The first suburb was Levittown on Long Island • The houses are very similar to one another • The suburbs evoke nature THE NUCLEAR FAMILY AND THE 1950 S H OUSEWIFE • Women will become in charge of the home • The anxiety over unemployment effects -- women have to return home so men can go back to work • Women were seen as irresponsible if they stayed at work • 1959 -- half of American brides were under 19 • They often abandoned education in favor of starting a families • This is the idea of Republican Motherhood -- the best thing you can do is to raise the best generation • For a child to develop in the best possible way, it needs the mothers attention -- this was backed by science • Women were warned to not compete with men in the workplace -- they comprise a third sex or be diagnosed with penis envy! • Another of a woman’s job was a to create a comfortable atmosphere for their husbands • There was a growing concern that women were not enjoying their womanly duties -- if this was the case it could be a medical condition (most of the time it wasn’t) TELEVISION AND ADVERTISING • American dream is defined by material possessions • This consumption will dwarf everything before it -- symbolic of capitalism • The idea of keeping up with the Jones’ • The idea was to make everything pretty, shinny, and colorful • Advertising budgets tripled in this period • They buy things for the home -- they are considered great gifts for women so that she can reduce her workload • Late 1950s -- 90% of households have a fridge, car, and telephone • In Moscow, 1958 -- The Soviet Union did not have these things • Nixon showed this to Khrushchev to show him the success of capitalism -- this helps to spark dissatisfaction in the Soviet Bloc countries • Khrushchev believes these inventions are for shallow uses • Fashion is very important -- shows material abundance, something you couldn’t do during the war With most Americans having a television, you have captive market • • The first toy commercial was the Mr. Potato • 1959 -- Barbie is created • Her proportions is modeled after a German doll • 1955 -- the first Disneyland is opened ANXIETY AND AFFLUENCE •Teenagers didn’t exist before this time -- you went from child to adult •They were all sorts of new shows •Americans also become more religious •Evangelicals become prominent •“In God We Trust” was added to the American currency •This is because religion provides comfort from the atomic holocaust T HE A GE OF A NXIETY : FEARING S UBVERSION AT H OME •The Affluent Society says that 40 million Americans still live in poverty •Suburbs were accused of causing polarization When white people moved out of the cities for the Suburbs (this is known as White • Flight) the African- and Mexican-Americans move in beginning the ghettoization of America THE S ECOND R ED SCARE LOYALTYO ATHS AND THHUAC •Truman creates the Loyalty order to force peop
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