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1920's

By samd1234 Jul 17, 2014 1114 Words
Social Aspects of the 1920s
            The 1920’s were the time in American history where there was rapid change in culture, artistic innovations were happening, rebellious behavior occurred, and a huge economic boom. After being exhausted with trying to be noble and having proper behavior, America, in the 1920’s had a decade of this social outbreak from the moral restrictions of the past generations.   In the 1920’s, on top of the social status were the upper class, or Fitzgerald referred to them as “old money.”  The upper class inherited their money through a long line of wealthy ancestors.  The Upper Class mingled with the Upper Class, talking to lower class was acceptable but having dinner with them would socially be embarrassing and not acceptable. The 1920’s were an age of Consumption meant having fancy cars, boats, houses, and outfits. Rich people wore a lot of clothes. Even in the Privacy of their own homes, upper class people would dress in their finest for dinner. It seemed in the 1920’s that all men of the upper class were in a competition over who had the best cars and other possessions. Upper Class Men were born into families with money, and didn’t work for it, and were brought up to have a certain air. They provided for their wives & children yet showed little affection towards either and often kept a mistress or two. Upper Class men also gathered in exclusive Men Only Clubs where they drank fine liquor and smoked cigars while gossiping, often bragging about their mistresses while saying snide things about their wives and often speaking with pride about sons. The upper class women were socially out breaking from the Victorian Age. Prohibition of alcohol marked an era in which the men and women could interact and drink publicly. The women wore their skirts and hair short, drove on their own, and went out without chaperones. “The 1920’s were a time when everyone in America was trying to achieve his or her dream of being successful and rich, in order to gain happiness. Material possessions and money were the main reasons for people getting married during this era. People claimed to be searching for happiness, but really only found a false sense of it.” The second aspect of the social class was the rich people but they were known as the “new money.” These were the people who did not have ancestors that were wealthy and they had to be on their own. Because of the stock market boom in the beginning of the 1920s, many middle class businessmen quickly became rich. The “new money” class of people tried really hard to behave like the upper class but socially they were not accepted because of the social class distinctions before they became wealthy and the lack of experience or finesse to use wealth in the same manner as “old money” families did. The whole American Dream for the people part of this class was to be part of the upper class and become a part of that because people believed that after being accepted as part of them, life would get better and they would find happiness and that is what they were trying to achieve. Gatsby, a character from the novel The Great Gatsby is one of the best representations of a businessman who was part of the new money class and how desperately he wanted to be part of the upper class and how hard he worked for it.  Right next to the newly rich was the middle class. Because of the mass production and industrializing cities, there were many job opportunities in the cities, which made it affordable for people from the west to stay in big cities and that created the middle and urban working class. The middle class were The everyday life for a middle class man was to work in the city, have time for the family, and then have their own leisure time. The employment of women helped the household expenses for the men but usually most female workers were single. During the stock market boom, many middle class businessmen gained a lot of wealth and became part of the newly rich class. The prohibition made it illegal to manufacture, sell, and transport alcoholic drinks, which made many middle class citizens increase the usage of alcoholic beverages and viewed the prohibition as something like a joke. The 1920s saw the flowering of the culture of the African Americans, which lead to the introduction of the jazz music that emerged in New Orleans which later spread to other countries. The middle class men would go out to jazz bars and would drink and listen to jazz music all night long. During the 1920s, the middle class citizens included in being married, having children, enacting proper gender roles, and “participate in the worlds of business and politics.” Under the middle class was the lower class. They mostly consisted of the industrial workers. The roaring twenties for the lower class was different because the working class communities were already in crisis before the stock market crash. Many unemployed workers from the west, college dropouts, or veterans from the World War I that had no work became part of that working class. The working conditions of the workers were terrible and many of them went on strikes. One of the strikes’ was the Great Railroad Strike of 1922. The railroad labor board’s cut their wages down to seven cents, which was the immediate cause of the strike. It died down eventually because many shop men made deals with the railroads on a local level. Another major strike that the works did was the Coal Strike of the 1919 in which four hundred thousand workers walked out due to a wage agreement issue. This shows that while the many of the upper class citizens enjoyed the wealth and the luxury, there were another group of people paying the price for wealthy. Overall the social structure was unfair during the 1920’s because of the huge gap between the upper class and the lower class. The culture in the 1920’s was the loosening of the social structure and the rebellious behaviors and the challenging the traditions of proper behavior.

Bibliography
 "The 1920s: Lifestyles and Social Trends: Overview." Encyclopedia.com. HighBeam Research, 01 Jan. 2001. Web. 09 Feb. 2014. .
 "Digital History." Digital History. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2014. .
 "LitCharts | The Great Gatsby: Themes." LitCharts | The Great Gatsby: Themes. LitCharts, n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2014. .  
McComb, Mary C. "Great Depression and the Middle Class: Experts, Collegiate Youth and ..." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2014. . Shmoop Editorial Team. "Economy in The 1920s." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 09 Feb. 2014. .

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