Part three- 1920-1941 Social cultural developments

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  • Jazz age was part of a revolution in popular culture, leisure, sport and mass entertainment 
  • 'Roaring twenties' and 1930s depression- pop culture reflected how society was changing and was a cause for the change
  • was the age of jazz and pop culture 
  • live jazz - from S to N cities with A-A northward migration
  • Radio/gramaphone spread music of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie
  • silver screen; from silent cinema to talking picture
  • music-vital part of mass appeal of movies
  • age of celebrity, promoted by newspaper/mags/cinema newsreels
  • publicity machine captured public attention for celebs (film stars/ Babe Ruth baseball hitter/ Charles Lindbergh solo flight across atlantic/ Al Capone Chicago gangster)
  • consumerism- symbolised by automobile (ford and general motors) allowed new kind of social mobility
  • previous luxury goods now in reach of ordinary families-mass production and pay-by-installments and aided by advertising growth
  • bold, confident construction=Golden Gate Bridge San Fran, Empire State Building NY
  • cities= skyscraper, art deco hotels, department stores and movie theatres (outward face of new prosperity
  • glamour and modernity didn't reach everywhere, many left out
  • urban phenomenon, many disapproved
  • atmosphere of interwar years shaped Americas version of itself and helped unify a disparate society
  • NEW SOCIAL VALUES accompanied new prosperity
  • swing back to 'normalcy' under harding and Coolidge reflected in consumerism
  • urbanisation & rapid expansion of advertising accentuated these trends
  • previous assumptions like progressive ideals were challenged 
  • new social values -not approved by all
  • backlash of social conservatism from rural small town US in religion, condemnation of godlessness by churches; by radio evangelists like Billy Sunday; by leaders of new political movements (Francis Townsend and Huey Long)
  • values clash, due to mass KKK support early 20s
  • new values opposed by idealistic voices from left, over loss of democratic idealism and concerns for social justice
  • clash of cultures inter-war included old conflicts too
  • support for progressive ideals seemed strong at end of war- constitutional amendments to confirm universal female suffrage and intro of prohibition
  • progressivism = defined by historian Michael McGreer as 'fierce discontent' 
  • sustained reaction against liberation of women and prohibition
  • WOMEN make up half of every section in US society
  • were significant advances but not for all
  • mostly affected urban educated females
  • many were hostile to new freedoms
  • 1920 women voting rights -confirmed
  • handful of women broke through traditional social restrictions to win positions previously male dominated (Nellie Tayloe Ross-Governor of Wyoming 1925)(Frances Perkins-first female cabinet minister 1933)
  • Margaret Sanger- campaigning for birth control
  • Mary Bethume campaigned for rights for A-A women
  • an inspiration for women was first lady Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Eleanor= vigorous campaigner for human rights, she was very independent, she regularly invited controversy due to liberal view on racial equality and willingness to disagree in public with FDRs policies
  • the New woman came to wider society - socially liberated, often young, broke with traditional expectations and values
  • urban women- could have jobs (secretaries/shop assistants) and disposable income, wear short skirts, short hair-dos, smoke in public, be a 'flapper'
  • New woman image reinforced by mags and some adverts…

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