The Significance of the Sixties in the Society Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Society and Culture

The heirloom of the sixties era has been significant and decidedly pivotal for the advancement of culture and society in nations, an aspect that is referred to as civilization. These changes and modifications that the society went through made the 1960s decade to be one of the fundamental and vital periods of the twentieth century and a landmark that is forever etched. The 1960s era can be revered and given admiration as revolutionary. These changes had a major influence on not only nations in South America and Africa that were developing, but it also had a great influence in civilized nations and we choose to concentrate on Belgium (MacDonald, 2007).

The changes that the society experienced and went through at that time made the 1960s one of the fundamental transition periods of the twentieth century and significant to how culture had fashioned society to what we see in the present day. There are a number of aspects that made the sixties have such great influence. These include freedom and equality, the emergence of youth, music and pop culture and also affluence. These are the most significant elements that engendered change in the sixties and in turn had such immense influence in society and culture (MacDonald, 2007). We specifically chose to write about this particular subject because we, the authors, are of Belgian nationality and not only are we patriotic but we are very proud and honored to call Belgium our home country.

MacDonald (2007) opines that, the sixties instigated and prompted changes in the society that were quite extensive in a geographical sense, but what is all the more significant and what makes a distinction between this particular period and others is the fact that these prompted changes were also quite extensive in a demographic sense. This is in the fact that the changes had a great influence on a broader age range compared to the other decades and affected just about every societal sphere ranging from politics to pop culture (MacDonald, 2007).

Why is this the case? Why did the 1960s period have such a massive influence on society and culture in such an extensive way? This work will make an attempt to analyze the manner in which this particular decade had an influence on society and culture and particularly with reference to Belgian society and culture.

Youth, Music and the Sixties

When the term revolution is used in dialogue and discussion, it is not surprising for the general idea and storyline to shift towards the movement that went on during the Sixties period. It is imperative to take note that in the course of history, there have been several revolutions that have taken place. However, the events and occurrences that took place in the 60s decade is one that is considered as a cultural revolution and one that resounded and resonated everywhere in the globe and its influences continue to be felt up until the present day (Donnelly, 2014).

The youth culture of the Sixties made it possible for where we are contemporarily and what took place all the way since, through the subsequent eras of 70s, 80s and 90s to the end of the twentieth century (Donnelly, 2014). This particular decade has time and again been mentioned in aspects such as fashion, music as well as design. It addition, the 1960s is a time period and era that will incessantly be deemed as the time when the youth came to life and were handed a voice (Taylor, 2012).

As aforementioned, the most significant element of pop culture in the Sixties was music. For majority of the youth at the time, music became a way or channel of expressing and conveying themselves simply because barely any individual had the capability of creating a film or saving up capital to purchase guitars and commence playing professionally. For the other groups of people devoid of the musical talent and unwilling to be musicians, music was looked upon as fun and a leisurely activity and also a means of socializing (Helc, 2006).

What is more, music was considered to be a means of communicating disapproval and condemnation of a particular aspect by attending concerts of different revolutionary musicians such as Bob Dylan. In the 1960s, music stopped being perceived solely as a means of entertainment, and a new form of music emerged. This was music that communicated and conveyed a fundamental message. It encompassed songs whose lyrics were more significant than the tune or melody (Helc, 2006).

Another influential aspect in the Sixties was the element of equality and freedom. The decade attested to the cultivation and development of the human rights movement. Some of the influential movements included the feminist movement, gay movement and lesbian movement. Nevertheless, the most influential and prominent human rights movement was the fight and battle for the equality of black people in the society (MacDonald, 2007).

Important characters such as Malcom X and Martin Luther King ardently fought for the equal rights of black people or more so, what they termed as colored people. It was also in this decade that these two notable personalities who endeavored to attain equal status were assassinated. Nonetheless, MacDonald (2007) states, in consonance with popular belief that the significance of cultural instead of radical social and political liberation of black people is especially that of their music, for instance rhythm and blues, and rock and roll and the massive influence it's had on music as a whole.

One of the major influences of the Sixties period that had significant change was the emergence of the youth as a distinguishing force not only politically but also culturally. Political involvement and social action that was undertaken by college students on and off the university campuses, the status of youth-engendered styles of outfit, cleaning, communication and music, and insights of an age bracket gap representing a dissimilarity in values between persons born after the Second World War and those born prior to it contributed to the idea that age might turn out to be as significant an indicator of social identity as race, class, or gender (Lipsitz, 1994).

The social mayhems and disturbances of the sixties greatly influenced what it really meant to be the youth at that time. Music being fundamental to the experience and awareness of numerous young individuals in the sixties was an undeniable feature of the times and one that cannot be contested. According to Lipsitz (1994), music can be acknowledged and outlined as the most significant rite for the young in the sixties as the focal point of a standard of living and a counterculture that attested forcefully to the turbulations manifesting within the society.

According to Kramer (2006), with regard to the counterculture of the Sixties period, rock music was not just influential in terms of public entertainment, but also as a kind of public life. Whereas several scholars and academics have made the argument that rock music was unable to get along with civic contribution and partaking, the authors assert that in scenes of music, for instance San Francisco, in artistic posters and dancing, in publications which have been printed and on the radio broadcast, rock music serves the purpose of being a beam of light for many prevalent predicaments and quandaries of citizenship and civil society (Kramer, 2006).

As commonly as it declined and weakened into diversion and pleasure-seeking, rock music generated an environment of investigation in which the youth may well heed, contemplate, act, and sense their way through problems of public and civic communication, for instance individuality, being in the right place, authority, and democracy (Kramer, 2006). It can be considered that even at the time when disseminated by the American army to Vietnam or when socializing to youth movements internationally, anything but obscuring public life, rock music changed it into a mass-mediated means of relationship that anticipated the civics of international society.

Hippie Culture

The most influential movement of the 1960s that is linked with the youth materialized and developed in the United States. In particular, the hippie movement was in remonstration against the Vietnam War that began at the outset of the Sixties. In turn, numerous young men declined and snubbed joining the army (Sherkat and Blocker, 1994).

Instead, they departed from their households and resided in small societies with fellow young people where they desired to live in love and peace. These youths, in some sort of way, were supporters and admirers of the beat generation. They protested and campaigned against the customary and old values of their parents and the dissimilarity or variance in thinking -- a chasm that was quite difficult to bridge (Sherkat and Blocker, 1994).

The focal point of the hippie culture, that had a great influence on what Belgium is today, was centered in the state of California and more dominantly in San Francisco. Persons from all over the land thronged the city with the hope and wish that they would find there a future that was much better and a…

Sources Used in Document:


Donnelly, M. (2014). Sixties Britain: culture, society and politics. Routledge.

Gammond, P. (1993). The Oxford Companion to Popular Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Grossberg, L. (1984). Another boring day in paradise: Rock and roll and the empowerment of everyday life. Popular Music, 4, 225-258.

Helc, R. (2006). The Beatles and Their Influence on Culture. Brno: Masaryk University.

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