Not Ready for New Times
Changes in the everyday life of ordinary Americans occur so gradually that often they are discovered only after they have gained momentum and resulted in new structures and patterns of living. Looking back on the years 1967-1974, we see continuities in everyday life being broken. Lines between private and public lives became so blurred that it became virtually impossible to draw distinctions between them. The descriptive term modern fit less well than before, although postmodern did not fit well either. Thoughtful men and women of all ages had reason to ponder the meaning of what they saw around them.
They could ask, for example, where idealism had got them: personal insecurity still existed. Some continued to suffer from hunger or lack of decent clothing or shelter. Some were unemployed or lacked the skills for economic advancement. Distribution of wealth was grossly unequal. Some Americans remained victims of discrimination in their quest for housing, jobs, and education and as producers and consumers in the marketplace. Some were politically powerless; some who had power abused it. They could wonder whether the Voting Rights Act of 1965 did much to change the circumstances of the African Americans who were previously denied the right to vote, or whether lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, (achieved through ratification of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment in 1971) conferred significant power on America's youth.
How long did the forces driving the cultural changes of the 1960s last? Did the counterculture leave a permanent mark on America? Many of the changes of these years were most visible among youth on college campuses, so one way to answer those questions is to compare life and