Social Context

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  • Old South
    • Social Context
      • New South
        • Reformers call it modernisation of society: reject economy and traditions of Old South
          • Slavery-based plantation system of antebellum period
          • Seemed in great need of urbanisation + industrialisation. Slavery was abolished
          • The rise of the New South continued the supremacy of whites over blacks who had little/no power (Grady 1888- "white race is the superior race")
        • Stanley represents New America (polish born in America)
      • Great Depression
        • Dampened New South enthusiasm as investment capital dried up
        • The nation saw the South as a large economic failure
          • WW2 ushered in a degree of economic prosperity eg. Tennessee Valley built dams, generated employment
            • Mining, steel and ship building flourished during WW2 and set the stage for increased industrialisation
      • Post WW2
        • Provided demand and capital to the economy - promoted region's industrialisation
        • In 1940s, mobilisation for WW2 intervened and billions in government spending flowed to the South
          • Racial segregation in schools and public areas were still the law
        • The aftermath of Great Recession brought WW2 into spotlight as policymakers looked for historical analogies to inform their response to the crisis
          • A third of Americans lived in poverty, a third of the homes had no water, two fifths lacked flushing toilets and three fifths lacked central heating.
      • Gender
        • During the 40s women's roles were changing rapidly. It went from having very little say in society and staying at home to serving in the US Navy.
        • The image of the Southern Belle is a stock character representing a young woman of the American Deep South's upper socioeconomic class.
          • Southern Belles were expected to marry respectable young men. The Southern belle archetype is characterised by Southern hospitality, beauty and a flirtatious demeanor
        • Developed in the South during the antebellum era (1783-1861). Based on young, unmarried woman in plantation-owning upper class
      • The American Dream
        • America was in the midst of WW2. Men were being sent overseas and women sent to factories.
          • Women in the workplace became the first stepping stone of the first wave of feminism
            • For some this was the opening of a new door in the American Dream - opportunity to seek employment, a new financial freedom
    • Americans regarded Southerners as distinct people who possessed their own values and way of life.
      • Popular writers created stereotype known as 'plantation legend'
        • Described South as land of aristocratic planters, beautiful southern belles, poor white trash and household slaves.
        • After Civil War black people exercising their right to vote led to Republican South until 1977
          • Middle class and educated Republicans moved to South: segregation and racist policies subsided
      • Refers to tradition of voting the Democratic ticket ( the Solid South )
    • Blanche represents the Old South


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