American Society & Economy after 1945

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  • American Society & Economy after 1945
    • after WW2, Americans had to adjust to the fact that society had changed
      • war ended Depression of 1930s; had left USA as most powerful country in the world; but also left major tensions within society
    • 1945-1970s society changed a lot & economy grew rapidly
    • some of American society experienced a comfortable lifestyle of affluence
    • popular culture & entertainment developed rapidly with beginnings of pop music & TV
    • there were tensions over fears of Communism influence & inequalities suffered by African Americans
    • Consumerism and the Causes of Prosperity
      • rapid economy growth provided most middle-class white Americans with a comfortable lifestyle
      • during 1950s USA was producing nearly half the world's goods
      • during 1950s GNP (total value of all goods & services produced) doubled
      • economic boom came from conditions at end of WW2- USA had suffered no mainland bmb damage, unlike its industrial competitiors
    • The American Dream
      • many wealthy white Americans moved from old city centres to new suburban areas, relying on motor transport
      • many modern appliances became normal like refrigerators, washing machines & TV's
      • people assumed steadily increasing wealth= more spending= ensure economic growth continued= proved true during 1950s
      • spending rather than saving was normal. Shopping became a recreational activity
      • advertising as well as magazines & newspapers was still important as well as TV
      • Hire purchase (paying someone over months/yrs) became normal way to buy as people got used to living on credit rather than saving up
      • 1950s= gradual acceptance that goods were only expected to last a few yrs and had to be replaced with newer models
      • often difficult to get spare parts for older models, forcing people to buy the newer ones
      • compared with 1920s, wealth was spread further down social scale
        • there were many who still felt excluded- majority of Americans aspired to be part of American Dream in these circumstances


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