Life in the 1950s Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Life in the 1950's

The 1950's was a very pivotal time in the history of the United States. Essentially, this time period was one of transition. There were several factors that were responsible for some major transitions in the country during this epoch. The most prominent of these was the conclusion of the Second World War the previous decade, which set the stage for America's dual-superpower struggle with the Soviet Union (which was the only other developed nation to escape the war relatively unscathed). In fact, one can argue that the conclusion of World War II in the 1940's helped to influence virtually every other major social, economic, and political factor affecting the country. From an economic standpoint, the country was in the final decade of its position as the leading manufacturer in the world. Politically, it was engaged in the Cold War and attempting to stymie the tide of communism which would result in the Korean War and the lengthy Vietnam War. Socially, there were a number of movements taking place that spawned the Baby Boomer generation, McCarthyism, and a reaction to the staid times, the Beatnik Movement.

Largely due to the fact that America was one of only two superpowers in the world following the end of World War II, it status as an economic power was virtually unchallenged within the capitalist marketplace. Manufacturing jobs, fueled by production plants, unionized labor, and a preeminent status in a number of vertical industries such as automotive manufacturing helped spur the economy and contribute to a trade balance in which the country shipped substantially more than it imported. It is critical to realize that the current global economy, in which U.S. multinational companies systematically shut down production plants and took the majority of manufacturing and other jobs overseas for reduced costs in labor and supplies, did not begin until the 1960's and did not fully accelerate until the 1970's (Perrucci, 2008, p. 107). In this respect, then, the country enjoyed a degree of economic prosperity in the 1950's that affected both workers and the management class. In fact, the only thing that was perceived as a threat to this prosperity was the spread of communism, and the increasing demands of unions for basic sanitary and remunerative conditions which eventually resulted in the calculated exportation of manufacturing jobs and industries to other countries…in the 1960's.

The political zeitgeist of this period in America was a direct response to the former of these two economic concerns. The Soviet Union was busy building its Iron Curtain and attempting to extend the spread of communism throughout Europe and other parts of the world, most noticeably in Asia in Korea and in Vietnam. The United States, then, attempted to systematically counter the effects of communism by attempting to not only prevent the extension of communism from a global perspective, but also by attempting to diversify the capitalist market throughout the world.…

Sources Used in Document:


Perrucci, R. And Wysong, E. (2008). The New Class Society: Goodbye American Dream? New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. 2008.

Salsamendi, C.M. (2013). Historical continuity of the Cuban Revolution. Megatrend Review. 10(2), 47-64.

Theado, M. (2004). Beat generation literary criticism. Contemporary Literature. 45(4), 747-761.

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