It is easy to see why Marwick asserts that the sixties were ‘a period of exceptional cultural and social change’. To test this assertion I will be examining at the disciplines of History, in particular the economic prosperity and new consumerism of the time. Art History, with reference to the work of Rothko and Warhol and Religious studies, where I will be looking at the move towards the Eastern inspired mysticism and religions. I intend to demonstrate that the changes that took place in the long sixties were far-reaching and long lasting. Thus I hope to prove that it was the way in which the counter-culture, that emerged in Europe and North America during the sixties, challenged and ultimately changed the rigid social hierarchy, sexual repression and authoritarian attitudes of mainstream society as it was at the end of the fifties, that made this period exceptional.
Marwick refers to historical events in the late fifties and early sixties as ‘the first stirrings of a cultural revolution’ (Block Book 6, Page 37). The post war baby boom, full employment and higher wages at this time meant (with all members of a household working and contributing, including women), that each individual was able to keep a much greater proportion of their earnings for themselves, instead of their entire income being absorbed into the family budget, as had historically been the case. In Britain 1955-69 working-class earnings increased by 130% and 1951-71 personal disposable income increased from £390 to £638, with increases also across Europe and America (Resource Book 4, pages 21, 22, 23). So it followed that young unmarried people had disposable income, as never before, to spend on luxuries. One of the things that made the sixties exceptional was, that instead of following the fashions and trends of the time as their parents had, these young people wanted something different. They... [continues]
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