Daily Life in the United States, 1960-1990: Decades of Discord

By Myron A. Marty | Go to book overview

readers must recognize that this is "contemporary history." In fact, historians are still gathering and sorting evidence concerning the years it treats. But as H. Stuart Hughes has written in History as Art and as Science, "Somebody must interpret our era to our contemporaries. Somebody must stake out the broad lines of social change and cultural restatement, and he must not be afraid to make predictions or chagrined at being occasionally caught out on a limb."1 In this book, I am one of those somebodies.

Second, as the historian E. H. Carr has written, historians are "both the product and the conscious or unconscious spokesmen of the society" to which they belong. "We sometimes speak of the course of history," Carr says, "as a 'moving procession.'" The metaphor is fair enough, he acknowledges, provided it does not tempt each historian "to think of himself as an eagle surveying the scene from a lonely crag or as a V.I.P. at the saluting base." Rather, each of us "is just another dim figure trudging along in another part of the procession." As the procession winds along, swerving right and left, sometimes doubling back, our perspectives change. Where we find ourselves in the procession shapes our perspectives on the past.2 The perspectives I bring to this book reflect decades of work as a teacher and writer and a life of learning, but those perspectives may change as I learn more. Readers, of course, bring their own perspectives to the book's contents. If the book accomplishes its purposes, it will broaden and enrich those perspectives.

Third, the diversity of the people whose lives are portrayed in this book presents a particularly difficult challenge. Drive the length of Halsted Street in Chicago, or ride a subway in New York or Washington, D.C., or observe comings and goings in the Los Angeles airport, or stand on a street corner in any town in America, and you will gain a sense of the difficulty one faces in generalizing about "the American people" and how our daily lives have played out over the past three decades. I have been mindful of this difficulty throughout the book.

With these cautions in mind, I hope that you, the reader, will find a place for yourself in the book's narrative and that it will help you better understand the narratives of your own life.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Most of the research for this book was done in Cowles Library at Drake University. I am grateful to staff members for accommodating my demands on the library's holdings and services and for procuring books and articles from other libraries. Their spirit of collegiality is admirable.

In the early stages, Diana Brodine, a Drake undergraduate, assisted with research. Later, John Facciola, a graduate student at Drake, provided invaluable research assistance. Drake University granted financial support for this assistance, for which I express my gratitude. A grant

-xi-

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Daily Life in the United States, 1960-1990: Decades of Discord
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in the Greenwood Press "Daily Life through History" Series ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Notes xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • Introduction xix
  • Part I - Modern Times Flourish and Fade: 1960-1966 1
  • 1 - Family Life 3
  • 2 - Changing Population Patterns 11
  • 3 - Private and Public Lives 25
  • 4 - Consumers in the Material World 35
  • 5 - The Other America 43
  • 6 - Mind and Spirit 51
  • 7 - Technology in Daily Life 57
  • 8 - Cultural Transformations 65
  • Part II - Troubled Times: 1967-1974 77
  • 9 - Changing Families 79
  • 10 - Civil Rights and Group Identities 87
  • 11 - Securities Shaken 99
  • 12 - Cultural Reflections/Cultural Influences 115
  • 13 - Material Aspects of Life 127
  • 14 - Environmental and Consumer Protection 141
  • 15 - Technology's Small Steps and Giant Leaps 149
  • 16 - Hard Knocks for Schools 159
  • 17 - Spiritual Matters 169
  • 18 - Not Ready for New Times 175
  • Part III - Times of Adjustment, 1975-1980 179
  • 19 - Family Changes Continue 181
  • 20 - The Peoples of America 187
  • 21 - Security Concerns 195
  • 22 - Television, Movies, and More 205
  • 23 - Cares of Daily Life 215
  • 24 - Arenas of Discord 225
  • 25 - Pulling Together 239
  • Part IV - Crossing the Postmodern Divide: 1981-1990 245
  • 26 - Family Variations 247
  • 27 - People at the Margins 255
  • 28 - Security Concerns Continue 265
  • 29 - Diversions 277
  • 30 - Concerns of Daily Life 291
  • 31 - Technology 303
  • 32 - More Discord 309
  • 33 - Prospects 331
  • Selected Bibliography 337
  • Index 353
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