Research Paper- Conformity in the United States in the 1950s
During the post WWII period in America, the face of the nation changed greatly under the presidency of Truman and Eisenhower. America underwent another era of good feelings as they thought themselves undefeatable and superior over the rest of the world. Communism was the American enemy and American sought to rid the world of it. Because of the extreme paranoia caused by Communism, conformity became an ideal way to distinguish American Culture from the rest. During the age of conformity everyone wore the same clothes, ate the same foods, and drove the same car. Everyone had the same shared experiences (i.e. the depression and the war).Conformity became a part of every American Life to a large extent. It became evident through the medium of culture, society and politics throughout the era of the 50s.
A sense of uniformity pervaded in the United States during this time. Conformity was common, as young and old alike followed group norms rather than striking out on their own. Though men and women had been forced into new employment patterns during World War II, once the war was over, traditional roles were reaffirmed. Men expected to be the breadwinners; women, even when they worked, assumed their proper place was at home. Sociologist David Riesman observed the importance of peer-group expectations in his influential book, The Lonely Crowd. He called this new society "other-directed," and maintained that such societies lead to stability as well as conformity. Television contributed to the homogenizing trend by providing young and old with a shared experience reflecting accepted social patterns.
The 1950s was considered the most prosperous decade because of the war time economy because WWII got the U.S out of the Great Depression and the recovery of Japan and Europe allowed them to start trading with the U.S which also boosted the U.S economy. America was continuing to build up their military and industrial complex due to the Cold War. Wages and savings accounts were at an all-time high because there was nothing to spend money on before and after the war people were dying to spend money. 60% of people made it into the middle class. There was an emphasis on nuclear family because people were concerned about security and stability; this leads to suburbia. Suburbia reinforced conformity; the houses all looked alike and everyone was driving the same cars, had the same appliances, same jobs, and the kids all went to the same school. Women almost forgot about feminism. Women were marrying younger to prevent pre-marital sex. The ideal number of kids was 4 (which results in the baby boom). The separate sphere's ideology was embraced. The credit card was born in the 50's. TV helped mass consumerism as well; they portrayed images of middle class lifestyles and used commercials. Consumerism was another way to conform. The Auto industry also boomed again. McDonalds was also born due to the auto industry. .Men were