How much impact did youth culture have on society in the years 1955-75?

Topics: Childhood, Youth, Young Pages: 5 (1861 words) Published: October 19, 2014
How much impact did youth culture have on society in the years 1955-75? This particular period of time was very significant in terms of general changes in society given the post war baby boom, abolition of the death penalty, improved reproduction rights for women, peaks in the number of university attendees, sexual revolution which saw strident action towards female liberation and equality, an influx of immigrants from the Caribbean and South Asia, periods of economic booms and busts and new found openness of sex, sexuality, drug use and freedom of expression in fashion and music which was largely unprecedented. The question however is, how much influence did youth culture have on these issues and what has been the impact of the changes brought about during this era. The definition of youth is “the period between childhood and adult age” and Kenneth Keniston, leading sociologist wrote the phenomenon of youth, described youth as being a new period of life which came after adolescence but before the assumption of adult responsibilities. Over time the term has broadened to include the section of the population, some of who are adolescent, some of whom are beyond adolescence but not yet fully independent adults. Those who make up this group have broadened with the increase in higher education. Post-war Britain experienced something of an economic boon and with a lack of workers, particularly in work which required fewer skills, the government embarked on an immigration programme from the colonies, most notably the Caribbean (predominately Jamaica) and South Asia. Concern soon started to spread about the number of “coloureds” coming into the country and this culminated in the Nottingham and Notting Hill Riots of 1958. Youth played a crucial role in the tensions of the time which lead to the riots. There were a number of orchestrated attacks by white youths, fascists and Teddy Boys on black youth and a black youth, Kelsom Cochran was attacked and killed in Notting Hill. The white youths called these attacks “niggar hunts” but generally blacks were seen as a cause of the problem and on now infamous conservative politician, Enoch Powell, gave his now famous ‘Rivers of blood’ speech. Black youth did have some support, black music; Ska and blue beats were very popular as was the style associated with black people hence there was support for ‘the others’. There were two groups, the mods or the rockers. Mods rode mopeds, wore tailored clothes and aimed for a clean and sophisticated image; they listened to rhythm and blues or ska music. The American influenced rockers rode motor bikes, wore leather jackets and preferred rock n roll music. These developments were influenced by magazines such as Honey. It was aimed at teenagers and included news about fashion and music, advice and advertisements on make-up and photos of celebrities. With openness in sexual experimentation and sexuality due to the Sexual Offences Act in1967, what also emerged was a growing number of interracial relationships amongst the youth and consequently children that came out of these unions. So the traditional White Britain was beginning to be eroded although the politics of this became part of the emerging manifestations of youth culture. So whether supporters of the new immigrants or not there was a unique fusion of cultures and one which the youth on both sides impacted. There was an emerging consciousness among the youth which meant that they were prone to freedom of expression and disdainful of seeing their tribe mentality of their parents and family before. They were also becoming more educated as there was more educated. With education there was more evaluation and consideration of social issues. The youth in the 1960s were very political compared to today and very vocal. At the 1966 General Elections 60.5% of the voters were youths, aged 18-24. Ruth Ellis’ death evoked strong sentiment and stimulated intense public interest. A large population of those...
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