Society and Culture since
World War II
In the period after World War II, Mexico became more fully integrated into the international community than ever before. The country’s charter membership in the United Nations at the close of the world conflict symbolized an end to the exclusive concern for parochial matters and a more profound interest in great world issues. Mexican presidents traveled widely carrying Mexico’s message to Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America. They were determined to begin exerting leadership in the Third World. This new world outlook effected a basic change in self-image. The strident nationalism of the revolutionary era first gave ground and then surrendered to a new internationalism. Many perceived that the problems faced by the nation—rapid population growth, urbanization with its attendant social dislocations, persistent poverty, serious pollution, and ecological imbalance—were not only Mexican but global. Through science, technology, and economy the world had become increasingly interdependent, and solutions to these problems were scarcely possible within the confines of the national boundaries.
The social and cultural changes of the postwar years were every bit as dramatic as those that had characterized the Porfiriato. The population growth was nothing short of fantastic, doubling in the twentythree-year period between 1940 and 1963 and continuing to burgeon in geometric proportion. At the end of World War II, the population of the country numbered some 22 million; by 2000, it had soared to almost 100 million.
The capital had only 3 million inhabitants in 1950, but in 2000, according to some counts, greater Mexico City had swelled to a depressing 22 million and covered 779 square miles. Like a giant mag