Daily Life in the United States, 1940-1959: Shifting Worlds

Daily Life in the United States, 1940-1959: Shifting Worlds

Daily Life in the United States, 1940-1959: Shifting Worlds

Daily Life in the United States, 1940-1959: Shifting Worlds

Synopsis

Examine the everyday lives of ordinary Americans from the 1940s and 1950s and discover how very different the two decades were. World War II affected Americans and the way they behaved, not only in the 1940s, but also in the years that followed when the depression that preceded the war was replaced with an economic boom. Explore how women's roles and lives changed during these two very distinct decades, how politics and political decisions impacted all walks of life, and what the advent of growing technology, much of it developed during the war, meant to the general population.

Excerpt

This book is designed as a series of connected essays to help readers ask questions about America during two decades that are as different from each other as the nineteenth century is from the twenty-first. By examining a broad range of daily experiences, the text should encourage speculation rather than provide neat answers to such questions. I like to think that students examining the differing moods of the 1940s and 1950s from different angles will discover much that also helps them to define the present. Although it may be impossible to come to precise conclusions about the behavior of Americans at different times, it is possible to assess the forces that shaped their lives. Students can gain a better understanding of behavior and put it into context by examining how complex are everyday aspects of the lives of ordinary people. Readers should gain a complex awareness of how difficult it is to assess any period without including an array of the details involved in daily living that reach beyond politics. We define ourselves on many levels of work and play.

In both these decades students will be compelled to struggle with the enormous question of the role of government and law in defining individual choice. How much government spending--or its absence--determines how and where people live remains worth thinking about for both the 1940s and 1950s. What is the "good life"--the pursuit of happiness-- these Americans want? How do they deal with their fears as they construct new communities?

Because I see myself as a social critic of United States culture--a scholar of American studies--not as a historian, I have relied heavily on . . .

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