WHAT LED TO THE COLLAPSE OF CONSENSUS?
The 1950’s and early 1960’s was a time of consensus in the US. By the middle of the 60’s the US experienced a series of shocks which undermined consensus. The assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas in 1963. The differences in the civil rights movement. The escalation of the Vietnam War. All of these factors undermined American confidence to change the world and improve the country. By the late 60’s, US society was polarised: divided between different viewpoints: Youth culture; counter-culture, and multiculturism. The youth culture was created due to a baby boom in the 50’s and 60’s as this led to a large youth population. Most children stayed in school and university for longer. Most had more money because of the affluent society either from their parents of part-time jobs. As a result, they developed their own culture. Teenager became the term used to describe the years between childhood and adult years. The generation gap between adults and the teenager became obvious. J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye”, published in 1951 told the story of a restless teenager, Holden Caulfield who rejected the hypocrisy of adult life: “If you want the truth they’re all bunch of phonies”. The book was banned in schools in 15 states. Youth culture was the basis upon which consensus was destroyed. Rock ‘n’ Roll was a way of expressing the generation gap, unfortunately parents called it the devil’s music. Radio helped spread it with disc jockeys and the Top 20 with cheap 45 rpm singles and the LP in 1948 and juke boxes. Record sales were over $5000 million in 1960. The stars were Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley. Adults thought Elvis was obscene. The car became a symbol of restless youth. To cater for the mobile teenage and youth market, businessmen developed drive-in movie theatres and drive-in diners. Rock ‘n’ Roll was catalyst for the youth culture to develop, intensifying its effect on the collaps of consensus. Some of these...
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