The 1950’s in the United States of America were characterized by a strong fear of communism, growing consumerism due to a healthy and fast growing postwar industry and the belief that the nuclear family is the heart of the American society. If we examine these three ideologies closer and oppose them to Stephanie Coontz opinion expressed in her essay “Leave It to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet: American Families in the 1950s,”, we see that many myths existed about the 1950’s.
After World War Two the American economy was on the rise due to the outcome of the war. Some astonishing figures prove that fact, over 50% of the American families moved into middle-class status. The number of salaried workers increased by 61 % and the number of people with discretionary income doubled in the 1950’s. Housing started to explode people moved with their new earned financial independence into the suburbs. By 1960 62% of American families owned their own homes. For many Americans the "good life" was lived in the suburbs. For middle-class Americans the suburbs became a reality in the 1950s and “suburbia” was an essential part of the new consumer economy. New building techniques, prefabricated parts, and low-priced uninhabited land made the explosion in the suburbs possible. During that period the gross national product grew by almost 250 percent, allowing the government to reinvest in education benefits, housing loans, highway and sewer construction and job training that again benefited the middle-class families.
Within all that financial optimism, consumerism started to spread. After these families had bought houses the biggest boom in consumer spending was in household goods, also food spending rose by 33 % and clothing expenditures rose by 20 %. The development of consumerism can also be seen in the advertisement of the 1950’s most of them targeted the women who stayed at home fulfilling their role as a mother and keeper of the household. Advertisement for refrigerators,...
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