Britain: Teenagers

OCR How far did British Society changet 1939-1975?

Teenagers in the 50's & 60's.

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The 50's

Growing up in the 50's was hard, Britain was bombed, the government was spending on arms, rationing continued until 1954, National service was compulsory until 1960 & there wasn't much choice.

But the teenager was created- they wore different clothes to their parents, met in coffee bars & listened to new music, like Rock'n'Roll, jazz & blues which was influenced by America. American films like 'Rebel without a cause' 1955, dramatising the gap between teenagers & parents. Different groups were created, identified by what they wore, like the Teddy boys. A few gangs were formed, but teenagers wanted to rebel, not be violent.

These changes confounded parents, who had just been through the war to protect their children, who were now turning away from them. It is also important to remember not all youths were the same & differed due to race, education, background & family.

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The 60's: Why & how life changed

Why Teenager's lives changed: television was more widely available; american influence; increased consummerism; society became more liberal; increased affluence; and the welfare state meant teens were healthier & better educated.

Fashion went through a revolution: it was influenced by celebrities like Twiggy, the miniskirt was invented, new hairstyles were invented- but not everyone could afford the latest fashions. Music also drastically changed: music was no longer aimed at families, bands were smaller and sang about controversial topics, the beatles, the who & the kinks had screming hordes of fans. Music was big business. Other important changes were the invention of shows like Ready, Steady, Go! and Top of the Pops.

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The 60's: Teenage Violence

For most Teens, rebellion consisted of listening to music and watching films their parents didn't approve of. They defied traditional authority figures and the 60's were a period of sexual revolution. But some teens took this further.

The Mods & Rockers were opposites, the former wore suits and rode mopeds, the latter wore leather jackets and rode motorbikes. In May 1964 they were involved in a series of violent clashes. In Brighton there were 76 arrests & £400 of damage. In Margate 84 were arrested & there was £250 of damage. In Clacton there were 97 arrests of 1000 drunken youths who caused £500 of damage. The youths smashed things up and shouted obscenities.

People were terrified and the term 'moral panic' was coined- an overreaction when it is known the violence was no worse that any before. This weekend is immortalised in the fil 'Quadrophenia'.

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The 60's: Sex revolution?

Teenagers were sexually mature at a younger age and parents everywhere thought that there was a sexual revolution happening. The pill was available by 1969, abortion was legalised and STDs could be treated by antibiotics. Films portrayed increasing sexuality and were deemed controversial.

Despite the outcry, only 1 in 3 boys and 1 in 6 girls had every had sex between the ages of 16 & 19, and most people wanted to wait until they were married.

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Student Protest

  • People who opted out of society were known as hippies. They originated from San Fransisco and were associated with the use of drugs and affected music of the later 60s. They talked of flower power & in august 1967 50 000 hippies gathered for a 3 day summer of love. In 1968 they participated in mass sit ins for the legalisation of cannabis. However, many didn't opt out of society- only at the week end.
  • In the 50s the CND was set up, in the early 60s many teenagers entered this movement. The peace movement has roots in this. There were protests for legalising cannabis, about racism & local issues. There was protests against courses etc at LSE. However,  in Leeds 1968 86% of students found student politics boring & 80% nationwide in 1969 were happy with their conditions & treatment.
  • The Vietnam war caused the biggest protests. John Lennon wrote Give Peace a Chance in 1969. Young people were heavily influenced by socialist ideas. In March 1968 25000 assembled & there was fighting with the police. In October 1968 30000 assembled & 25000 went to Hyde park while 5000 stormed the US embassy. Soon, however, the movement ran out of steam & students were not committed anymore.
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So. E good,useful stuff thank you!

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