In this lesson, our instructor Elizabeth Turro gives an introduction on the postwar prosperity and the other America. She talks about economic realities, rise in gross domestic product, the affluent society, or the other America, Bretton woods system, economic trends in the 1950s, general electric, suburban living, Levittowns and tract housing. She also explains the negative effects of suburbanization, changing demographics, baby boom! got to make up for lost time, highway expansion, city life belts, car culture, the emerging civil rights movement, civil rights challenges, Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and massive resistance against the case. The other key points are segregationists and the little rock nine, nonviolent protest, civil disobedience, social critics which is the Beats, Be-Bop Jazz, other culture dissenters, pop art, TV Culture, Rock and Roll and 1950s: Conformity or Rebellion and women's issues in the 1950s. Last but not least, she also illustrates the feminine mystique, other policies and demographic changes, the second migration from 1940 to 1970 and other demographic changes.
Positive aspects of the U.S. economy: huge economic growth & gdp tripled between after WWII through the 60s
In addition to the GI bill, employers acceptance of collective bargaining helped workers’ wages, benefits, & ability to buy homes
The “Other” America: Michael Harrington wrote powerfully about an America that contained within it “an affluent society” and “an underdeveloped nation, a culture of poverty”
Bretton Woods System: an important conference was held in 1944 and several institutions (like the IMF and World Bank) were created that not only were intended to help reconstruct war-torn Europe and help support Third World counties, but they also helped the U.S. economy
Rise in consumerism: in 1951, more $ spent on advertising than on education ($6.5 billion as opposed to $5 billion)
Huge suburbanization during the postwar era Levitttowns: revolutionized by William J. Levitt--affordable tract houses in housing developments in NY, PA, & NJ
The downside of suburbanization: suburban sprawl, “white flight,” restrictive covenants, and segregated neighborhoods
The Civil Rights Movement grew, and groups like the NAACP became more active as a result to combat discrimination in housing, transportation & other areas
Brown v. Board of Education: in a unanimous decision, it overturned the Plessy case. (Earl Warren: chief justice, who ended up being liberal, declared that separation implied inferiority)
Backlash against civil rights gains also grew
Clash between cultural conformists and dissenters who began to question the status quo
Postwar Prosperity and The 'Other' America
Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.