Economic, Social, and Moral Changes in America Term Paper

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economic, social, and moral changes in America since the end of World War II

Since the end of World War II, the American people have seen an extraordinary change in the economic, social and moral priorities of the nation and its people. Three generations have grown up since the war, each positively and negatively influenced by their parents and social change.

Who They Are

The WWII generation represents the most affluent elderly generation that the United States will see in a long time. This generation benefited from an expanding economy and skyrocketing real estate prices. Its members were the beneficiaries of generous government programs, from the GI Bill to government aid in buying their first home. (Wilkinson) high school education was sufficient to get well paying, secure jobs in their adult years. The lower level of education is one reason why members of this generation tend to see things differently than younger Americans. Like previous generations, this generation by and large trusts people in authority, easily accepts organizational structures, and enjoys traditional church hymnody skillfully played on the organ. This generation is fiercely reliable and values honor. Having lived through the Depression, they value the art of living frugally. This generation is based on life stability and faithfulness.

The Depression, World War II, and the Industrial Revolution have shaped many people in this generation. They tend to come from multi-generational families with clearly differentiated gender roles. They are characterized by stability, loyalty, and conservation of economic resources. The members of this generation are rooted tradition and value hard work. Born during the advent of radio, they are oriented toward auditory information. (Wilkinson, Chicowitz)

They are comfortable with traditional music, thee-point sermons, and a contemplative attitude in church services. Storytelling is a part of the experience of this generation, who grew up listening to stories on the radio. This generation by and large trusts authority figures and institutions, accepts organizational hierarchies and structures, and is faithful and reliable. This generation's word is worth everything; you can depend on them to do what they say they will do.

The WWII generation gave birth to the Baby Boomers. The political upheaval of Baby Boomers' formative years has shaped this generation to be highly suspicious of institutions, authority figures, and hierarchical chains of command.

Baby boomers were raised in a time of economic boom in America. In the post-World War II years suburbs were being planted, and isolated nuclear families became a new model of family life. At the same time, the coming of age of this generation marked a clash of values between young adults and their parents. This generation gap continues to define a huge clash of values between adults currently under 50 and older adults. As adults, this generation has experienced a high divorce rate, corporate downsizing, and scaled down dreams. Forever shaped by TV, rock music, and computers, the baby boomers value high quality, highly visual entertainment. They focus on achievement, fitness, individual fulfillment, a variety of choices, and immediate gratification. Boomers live to work and play. Whether they say it or not, they are seeking congregation that help them teach values to their children, are rooted meeting their needs, and are dedicated to high-energy, dynamic worship. Baby boomers are creative and eager to be involved when congregation have simple, nonhierarchical decision-making processes. They want to make a difference in the world by being involved in a congregation, whether or not they are members. (Chicowitz, Peppard)

The Generation X group, born between 1960-1980, is slightly smaller than the Baby Boomers with 70 million people. Referred to as Gen-X'ers, members of this generation often see the "X" as a derogatory term and feel they were raised in the shadow of Baby Boomers.

The Baby Boomers gave birth to Gen-X'ers. This generation, like the boomers, has experienced many cultural firsts that have shaped and continue to shape their attitudes and search for meaning. The Challenger explosion, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall, the AIDS crisis, and disintegrating families all have impacted the first post-modern generation. Each of these events has reinforced the feeling that nothing is quite secure and everything is relative. Members of this generation are technologically proficient, environmentally conscious, and value their leisure time. (Wilkinson, Chicowitz, Peppard)

They expect and love high-quality entertainment and are extremely visually programmed to "see" the world. They have rejected the failed experiment of the Enlightenment and its elevation of scientific reason. Instead, they value personal experience and feelings; relationships are very important to them. They are by and large accepting of ethnic diversity and balanced power between the genders. Although this generation is cynical about the ability of institutions to change the world, its members are community-minded and willing to be involved in local projects to better the lives of others and the environment.

This generation responds well to congregations that have opportunities for small-group intimacy, local social service projects, and visually engaging worship services. Their motto "just do it" serves them well for their leadership in congregational life. Grounded in reality, this generation values stories, authenticity, and congregations that connect with reality.

Raising Kids Differently Than The Generation Before Many researchers say that the majority of Baby Boomers have completely rejected the core values and traditional ways of their parents in favor of rebellion and excessive ways. The Baby Boomers have been stereotyped as a wild, careless group with little time for their kids and a need for faster, quicker, better ways to do things.

On the other hand, 1960s revolution may have been exaggerated over the years. Many studies show, for example, that while a large vocal minority of mostly middle- and upper-middle-class college students challenged traditional institutions and mores, many of their peers remained as committed to old-time moral and religious values as ever. The Baby Boomers tried to pass on the traditional values of their parents to their children in a modern way. (Peppard)

The seventies and eighties, during which Baby Boomers were adults and Gen-X'ers were growing up, were a fast-paced time when everything changed constantly. One of the greatest changes seen between the sixties and the eighties was the shift in television and role models. Most of the television shows in the sixties had strong, parental role models, while the eighties' shows lacked respect for parenting. The Brady Bunch and Mary Tyler Moore influenced the Baby Boomers while Al Bundy and Madonna influenced Gen-X'ers.

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." - Arthur Schopenhauer. (Chicowitz)

During the nineties, Baby Boomers ridiculed opponents of television shows that were destructive to the minds of children, saying that it was no big deal. Today, Americans are back to the "violently opposed" stage.

The parents of Baby Boomers complained that their music was too loud but had little to say about the content of the music of the sixties, by artists such as Paul Simon and Carole King, until the Beatles began singing songs with lyrics like "Happiness is a warm gun." And then Paul Simon wrote "Me and Julio down by the school yard." Still, parents did not have to worry about warning labels on music albums, as seen in stores today. (Chicowitz, Peppard)

During the times when the WWII generation was raising the Baby Boomers, condoms were a hush-hush issue and a student could be suspended for having a condom in school. Today, schools are handing them out. WWII parents said that cars were for transportation only. Bill Clinton's U.S. Surgeon General said parents today should be teaching children what to do in the back seat of a car.

The difference can be clearly seen in this scenario. A student is caught smoking in the bathroom and calls the teacher a ***** when confronted. The teacher slaps the student. Here's the difference: If the student had WWII parents, he/she would have been punished at school and at home. If the student had Baby Boomer parents, the teacher would be suspended for slapping the student.

Educational standards during Baby Boomer's adolescence were stricter. There were set curriculums and students who did not fill all the requirements were held back. Students were faced with real tests and real grades, as opposed to today's "social promotion" policy, which allows students to advance to the next grade regardless of achievement if they meet the time requirements.

These differences in time and social norms are as much of a factor in analyzing the difference between child-rearing ways of WWII parents and Baby Boomer parents. While it is easy to point a finger and say that one method is superior to another, the fact remains that times and circumstances constantly change and while parenting is very important, we must look at who these generations are to see how their parents have influenced them.

Influences of Baby Boomers

Sociologists and the media have defined baby boomers as those born between 1946 and 1964, which means that most baby…

Sources Used in Document:


Wilkinson, Ron. Boomers vs. Gen X Cooperation Clash. BCFM Human Resources Committee, 2002.

Chicowitz, Hershel. Defining G-X'ers. BBHQ, 2002.

Peppard, Nancy. Ties that Blind: Social Disconnects And The Shifting Generational Profiles That Cause Them.College of Law Practice Management, 2001.

International Association of Baby Boomers

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