Populuxe: The Look and Life of America in the 50s and 60s, from Tailfins and TV Dinners to Barbie Dolls and Fallout Shelters by Thomas HinePopuluxe - populism, popularity and luxury is the word coined by the author to express the atmosphere of American society during the decade 1954-1964.The book examines the new luxury products created at this time and the lifestyle they represent, so giving a tour of this era when the United States had a booming economy and was virtually unchallenged as a world power.It discusses the new world of mass suburbia where there was always a hope of being able to move up the ladder to something better and looks at the many new things there were to buy such as electric lawn mowers, washing machines, a charcoal grill and televisions. This was the push-button age when the flick of a finger promised the end of domestic drudgery and was also described as the Jet Age when cars sprout ed tail-fins.
United States in the 1950s
What would a person from the s think of today? Answer by Gigi J Wolf , retired teacher, writer, on Quora. I knew this day would come. Someone would ask what life was like back in the Dark Ages of my childhood, before there was air, dirt, and water, and what I think of these fast times. As if we 50s peeps should all be gone by now, and if we were miraculously re-animated, we'd walk around marveling at the jet packs on people, and everyone's telekinetic abilities, brought to you from birth by the Government of the Universe.
Its economy was booming, and the fruits of this prosperity—new cars, suburban houses and other consumer goods—were available to more people than ever before. However, the s were also an era of great conflict. For example, the nascent civil rights movement and the crusade against communism at home and abroad exposed the underlying divisions in American society. About 4 million babies were born each year during the s. After World War II ended, many Americans were eager to have children because they were confident that the future held nothing but peace and prosperity. In many ways, they were right.
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The Postwar Booms
The s in the United States is often characterized as the age of conformity, housewives and the beginning of suburban sprawl. But beneath the conformist veneer, many important artistic, cultural and political events were occurring. There was the emergence of the teenager and teen rebellion, rock and roll and the civil rights movement with the first attempts to desegregate schools in the South, and a generation of writers and artists in search of the individual self in a culture that promoted conformity. The American automobile industry experienced a boom during the s and by the end of the decade, Americans owned more cars than all other countries combined, with 80 percent of American families owning a car. This led to the creation of an extensive highway network and influenced the mass movement from cities to suburbs where owning a car became necessary to get around. Suburban home-ownership increased sharply during the late s and more Americans owned homes than ever before in the nation's history.
The Culture of the s During the s, a sense of uniformity pervaded American society. Conformity was common, as young and old alike followed group norms rather than striking out on their own. Though men and women had been forced into new employment patterns during World War II, once the war was over, traditional roles were reaffirmed. Men expected to be the breadwinners; women, even when they worked, assumed their proper place was at home. Sociologist David Riesman observed the importance of peer-group expectations in his influential book, The Lonely Crowd. He called this new society "other-directed," and maintained that such societies lead to stability as well as conformity. Television contributed to the homogenizing trend by providing young and old with a shared experience reflecting accepted social patterns.