A2 1970s De Zwaan


MYP Unit Question: How did culture, events and leadership shape and reflect post-WWII America?

Brought to you by: William Bass, Moshe Haddad, Sarah Khan, Chloe Newport and Rabia Syed








Business & the Economy


     The economy of the United States during the 1970s had a huge impact on the way Americans lived. In previous decades the American economy had thrived during post-World War II years-as there had been an increase in employment.  It was during the 70s that the economy started winding down and taking a turn for the worst. It was in the 70s that new term had emerged-Stagflation which was a highly economically dangerous combination of rapidly increasing inflation and economic growth slowing down. 

     In order to backpedal the negative economy President Richard Nixon had increased government spending in hopes of stimulating the economy. However, this did nothing for the American economy and left the economy more vulnerable. This vulnerability was disclosed once the oil price rise of 73 occurred. This even, combined with general American irritation of the government led to Americans not trusting their government and further hurting the economy. Then, to add to the misery, large companies were in need of bailouts. These companies included The Big Three (Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors), Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, and many steel companies. Many of these companies were in competition of foreign companies and were losing their share of the market. The 1970s faced a hard slump in the economy, but even with the downturn many businesses were able to succeed such as Nike, Wal-Mart, Apple, and Microsoft. These companies lay a new foundation for the American economy- bringing focus away from large manufacturing and putting the focus towards service occupations. This action brought the economy back up during the 1980s.









     The 70s offered a transformation in the sense that the education system attempted to integrate minorities and women more into opportunities offered in schooling. These students were given higher attendance rates into schools with better education in comparison to past decades. the overall performance in standardized testing for public schools, however, decreased immensely, leading people to fear an educational crisis was occurring.


People were switching between traditional teaching methods, as people were deciding whether students needed more educational freedom or more old school methods, such as buckets of memorization.

     The thing about the education system, and the students that attended schools, is that they reflected greater issues that the nation was facing, such as racial, social, and economic problems.



These problems were also reflected as the attempts to completely rid schools of segregation. Racial balance was attempted by busing the kids to school each day, in the beginning of the 70s. However, by the end of the decade, the busing plan also was discarded. 



          Some popular fashion trends in the 1970’s include bellbottom pants, hip huggers, hot pants, platform shoes, which could range from 2 to 4 inches, clogs, empire line dresses, granny dresses, and gypsy dresses. Evening wear styles for women included full length maxi dresses, evening trousers and halter neck cat suits. Due to heating systems being installed in most buildings and cars light weight clothing became popular in the 70’s, this also lead to coats decreasing in length.


Hot Pants                    Halter Neck Catsuit


     A popular style that started in the 1970’s was punk, which mostly involved ripped t-shirts, torn jeans, and neon colored Mohawks; this style was inspired by bands like the Sex Pistols. 


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            As ease of travel increased patterns and styles, such as tropical prints, kaftans, kimonos, muumuus, djellaba or jalabiya, nehru jackets, macramé bags, Spanish shawls, ponchos and wrap around skirts, from abroad became popular in America. The popularity of the styles also started with the hippie movement because hippie styles, which included clothes from other ethnic groups, from the 1960’s entered main stream fashion in the 70’s.



            Men’s styles in the 1970’s included platform shoes, zippered jumpsuits, fat ties, over sized shirt collars and jacket lapels, as well as shoulder length hair.




Film and theater

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     In the 1970’s, film had truly began to prosper for the first time. In earlier centuries, television was more popular, because of the lack of ability to create long complicated films. When technology had come in, the capability to create complex movies with special effects and compelling story lines had become available. Also, during this decade, it became more acceptable to film movies with violence and sex, which led to more promiscuous and action packed movies, (i.e. The Godfather, Jaws, Saturday Night Fever)


Food &  Drink


     During the 1970s, ease and taste had been combined into one. Many people had become sick and tired of long and tedious cooking, which led to more convenient, and slightly cheaper food products. Fondue was invented during the 1970s for the ease of hosts at parties. People could simply dip whatever food they wanted into a fondue, which could be flowing with a variety of foods such as cheese, oil, or chocolate. Also, the "Hamburger Helper" was invented during the 1970s, which involved placing ground beef on a grill-like object and hamburger cooking would become "instant". Finally, fast food had become predominately popular during this decade, simply because people fell in love with the great taste, in the shorten time that they were looking for.
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Print Culture 

     Some of the most popular literature in the 1970s was from minority authors like Alice Walker and Toni Morrison as well as people living outside the U.S. like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges. Fiction was the most popular genre in the 70's. Novels were written about everything from spying and politics to sex, money, and power. The most popular writers of these novels were Robert Ludlum, Irving Wallace, and Leon Uris . Barbara Cartland and Phyllis A. Whitney were known for romance novels and wrote a new series called Harlequin Romances, which offered plenty of romantic fiction for women. Stephen King made his first appearance in the 1970s and would remain on the best seller list for the rest of the century. One of the surprise hits of the decade was a historical account of the life of a black family titled Roots, by Alex Haley. Also, American magazines were flourishing at this time with ones like People Magazine, Hustler and Ms. which were all started at this time, and became very popular. Two other big hits in this time was Judy Blume and Garfield.


Sports &  Games

     During the 1970s money for professional sports started to become a big picture. Whether it was football, baseball, basketball, etc. money was involved.  Baseball players began making as much as $1 million a year. Players like Pete Rose, leader of the Cincinnati Reds and Frank Robinson who led the Baltimore Orioles, these two teams dominated professional baseball during the 70's. Frank Robinson went on to become the first black manager in 1975, for the Cleveland Indians. Strong runs by upstart teams like the Oakland A's and the Pittsburgh Pirates made it an exciting decade for baseball. The Pittsburgh Steelers ran pro football league in this decade, winning four Super Bowls.The leading players of the decade included O. J. Simpson, Roger Staubach, "Mean" Joe Greene, and Terry Bradshaw were some of the leading players in pro football for this decade. College football was also popular at this time. On the other hand, professional basketball was at a slump during this period, despite the superstar Julius "Dr. J" Erving of the Philadelphia 76ers. College basketball, however, was hugely popular throughout the decade. 


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Pro hockey began to gain in popularity. Tennis, more specifically woman's tennis advanced due to victory of Billie Jean King over Bobby Riggs in Battle of the Sexes match, and other players like Chris Evert and Tracy Austin. In car racing, Janet Guthrie became the first woman to drive in the Indianapolis 500 in 1977, she finished in eighteenth. Black athletes continued to work their way up in sports, earning salaries comparable with those of white athletes and establishing important records. No record was more striking than the one Henry Aaron set early in 1974 when he topped Babe Ruth  for the all-time home-run record. Millions of Americans took up jogging or aerobics during the 1970's. Video games became popular in the 70's, as they were now made to play at home rather than in the arcade. The newest game system at this time was the Atari, which allowed Americans to play the game Pong.



     The 1970’s was filled with a variety of music including hard rock, soft rock, funk, disco and punk. Punk and disco were new forms of music at this time and while some loved the music, others thought it was terrible and that the punk culture was the downfall of civilization. After hard rock emerged in the 60’s, it was kicked up a notch in the 1970’s by groups like KISS, Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper. These artists each had their own unique style, expanding hard rock music. As hard rock became harder, soft rock became softer during the 70’s. Bands like the Carpenters, Barry Manilow, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and the most popular pop group throughout the 1970’s, ABBA. Both disco and punk were not only music, but a culture as well. While punk protested the dullness and uniformity of society, disco was all about flashy dance moves, mirror ball lights, and silk shirts. Some of the more popular punk bands at this time include The Ramones, The Sex Pistols and the Clash, whose music was all loud fast and angry. Alternative music also emerged during the 70’s with bands like the Talking Heads and The Cars.



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"The Way We Lived"

     In earlier decades/centuries, divorce was viewed as abnormal and wrong, until the early 1970’s when the divorce rate began to skyrocket.  Divorce had become socially acceptable during the 1970’s, along with many other social aspects.  Environmentalism had become more popular during this decade as people came to realize the environmental impact that industrialization had on society. Also, people began to push towards cleaner air, water, and land, by fighting against large corporations that created pollution. Other social changes that society faced during the 1970’s included an increase in STDs, serial killers, advancements in aerospace technology, and personal computer usage.

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Government & Politics

     Two of the largest political events that effected the world was the 1973 and 1979 Oil Crises. In 1973 the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) placed an embargo due to the fact that the United States had aided the Israeli military during the Yom Kippur war. This embargo lasted until 1974 and caused a rapid increase of oil prices and further damaged the American economy which was already facing a recession. The second oil crisis occurred in 1979 during the Iranian Revolution. In Iran, a new leader was established with protest. This caused a great flux in the oil production which lead to a complete suspension of exporting oil. When the oil export business was restarted again there was still a flux with prices and production and an overall lower amount of oil being sold which drove prices higher. The overall effect resulted in a panic which caused a further increase in prices. In a time of recession, this was detrimental to the American economy.



     Where as the Oil Crises effected people all over America through the economy there were also many other events that took place that also had great impact on the American view of the world and it’s own government. The American people had lost faith in their government after losing their first war; the Vietnam War, and had to settle with a Peace Treaty in 1973. Along with the Oil Crises, American business faced more problems by increase competition with Japanese and European markets. During President Carter’s reign, he focused on human rights rather than on the deteriorating economy which further drove a separation between the American people and the government. During Nixon’s fight with the Cold War, was a war that wasn’t necessarily in the constant forefront for all Americans. And after the Watergate Scandal which lead to Nixon resigning, it seemed to the people that the government had none of their interests in mind.


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     There were three presidents in the 1970’s: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter. Some accomplishments the President Nixon achieved during his presidency included revenue sharing, ending the draft, new anticrime laws, a broad environmental program, and reducing tensions with china and the U.S.S.R. President Ford’s accomplishments include cutting inflation by more than half and decreasing unemployment by getting nearly 4 million people jobs. During his presidency, President Carter accomplished the Panama Canal treaties, the Camp David Accords, the treaty of peace between Egypt and Israel, the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union, the establishment of U.S. diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China and He championed human rights throughout the world.



                         Nixon                                              Ford                                        Carter


Law &  Justice 

     There were many  legal issues that were brought to light during the 1970s. These issues included an increase in crime, right in court and the death penalty. Crime rates was a huge concern for average Americans due to the rapid jump in the rates over the years. Along with this increase of criminals, there was over population in jails and prisons. This lead to discussion of prison reform and to reevaluate the conditions felons were put through. Another large legal issue that consumed the American media was the Watergate scandal where Nixon abused his own Presidential powers. This scandal was based on the knowledge that the Nixon administration conducted illegal searches and wiretapping on their “enemies list”. This scandal resulted in the American public keeping a close eye on the Carter administration to ensure that no more abuse of power was to take place. The other major legal issue of the 70s was the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton cases in 1973. These cases dealt with “a woman’s right to choose an abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy.” (Baughman). These were just a few of the legal actions taken during the 1970s that greatly affected the American people and the future citizens of the United States.

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     By the 1970s people started identifying themselves as being gays or lesbians, and wanted an end to the discrimination they faced as a result. While some cities such as San Fransisco and NYC were tolerant of people's sexual orientation, other more conservative areas were anti-gay.

Homosexuals in religious groups, such as Episcopal Church, tried to gain influence and rights. In 1975, when the National Council of Churches debated equal rights for homosexuals and voted to support equal  rights while resisting from giving them the rights to participate in Ministry. 



     Woman’s feminism became a crucial part of the 1970s again, as many women tried to gain access to professional lifestyles. With this, came the liberal views and attempts to gain rights in religious positions.

The first woman Rabbi came to position in 1972 for the Reformed Jews and in 1970 both American Lutheran groups made a woman’s ordination. However, although several women’s religious groups supported the change, the Roman Catholic Church refused a woman’s ordination.  



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Response to MYP Unit Question

 How did culture, events and leadership shape and reflect post-WWII America?


     This decade shaped the post WWII era in ways such as the culture, leadership and economy. Because of the racial integration and many attempts to bring people into a more equal light, the education from the time paved a bright path to the education of the future. Music inspired the way people dressed, as punky style became more known. Also, the travel and ease of leaving the country brought a change in the way that people dressed as other cultures influenced America in the 1970s. The film industry began to really boom in this era, as the technology allowed movie makers to produce better quality films for people to see. These affected the era by making violence and sensuality more permitted in movies, making for more action packed, and compelling in their story lines. Also, these aspects made movies more controversial, adding to the already disconnect between traditional approaches and the newly emerging liberal ways. In terms of religion, the 1970s were affected by the demands of tolerance for sexual orientation. While some areas accepted homosexuals into communities and as leaders, more conservative areas were much against the idea of gays. This shaped the era however, by making the idea of choosing your sexual orientation much more common amongst Americans. Also, being culturally accepted now, divorce staggered the nation affecting the 70s with many broken homes. The environmental activism also shaped the 70s by its novelty and several other social changes occurred, shaping the nation for good. 


         Three president held power throughout the 197os. President Nixon successfully ended the war between North Vietnam and America by negotiating a cease-fire. He not only affected America in this positive way, but when the economy was in a downturn, Nixon participated in a presidential scandal known as 'The Watergate Scandal'. This resulted in his resignation, overall shaping the 1970s by shedding a negative light to Nixon's name, regardless of his positive work in office such as the war withdrawal and being very pro-environment and a good role model for 'green' thinking. President Gerald Ford took Nixon's place on the Presidential soap-box. Here was a president who did a great job of bettering the economy by decreasing inflation heavily and increasing the employment rate across the nation. These were monumental in fixing the economy of the time, affecting the 1970s in a positive way so that the slum lasted shorter than it could have.  President Carter had many pros in his foreign affairs. He was involved in the treaties of Israel to other countries, potentially ending a larger war at hand between angry Arab locals and the relatively new Israeli state. He also achieved treaties in other places, like Panama, and established diplomatic relationships with countries. He was overall a very peaceful man, sharing the peace with the whole 1970s era.


     The economy also had a great impact on the way the 197os played out. With the prosperity the United States had faced directly after the war dwindled, jobs and employment rates began to dwindle as well. This affected the 197os, obviously, because with the downturn the thriving post-WWII economy had taken, the term 'Stagflation' was added to people's vocabulary. This meant danger in the form of mixing high inflation with sluggish economic behavior. This also shaped the 70s because people were more aware of the possible consequences, and the way people were afraid of another insane downturn for the economy, like the Great Depression. Thankfully however, that did not occur and the poor economic trends gradually lifted. This along with two oil crises gave Americans an uncertainty about the economy that was not yet present in the post-World War II era. The war had positive effects on the economy, providing employment and reason for manufacturing. This downturn in the economy forced Americans to pay more attention and take part in efforts to re-stabilize it. It forced Americans to bond together to solve the issue. However, this bonding did not just move to assist the economy, but rather many social reforms as well. The 1970s shaped the post-World War II era because it brought, unfortunately, a separation between government and its people, but on a more positive spectrum it established rights for women, inmates and students-these affects are still seen to this very day and effect current Americans greatly still.




Works Cited (1970s)

"Abortion: Roe v. Wade." American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 8: 1970-1979. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 June 2010.


     "The Death Penalty." American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 8: 1970-1979. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 June 2010.


"The Media and Vietnam." American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 8: 1970-1979. Detroit: Gale,      2001. Gale Virtual      Reference Library. Web. 7 June 2010.


"The 1970s: Business and the Economy: Overview." American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 8:      1970-1979. Detroit:      Gale, 2001. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 15      June 2010.


"The 1970s Education: Overview." UXL American Decades. Ed. Julie L. Carnagie, et al. Vol. 8: 1970-1979. Detroit:      UXL, 2003.      50-51. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 16 June      2010.


"The 1970s: Government and Politics: Overview." American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 8: 1970-1979. Detroit:      Gale, 2001. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 16 June      2010.<http://jeffreyhill.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341d417153ef0105365edfd1970c-pi>


"1970s: Music." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 4: 1960s-1970s. Detroit: UXL, 2002. 981-982. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 June 2010.


American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, Victor Bondi, Richard Layman, Tandy McConnell, and Vincent Tompkins. Vol. 8: 1970-1979. Detroit: Gale, 2001<http://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&isETOC=true&     inPS=true&     prodId=GVRL&     userGroupName=lom_inac&resultListType=RELATED_DOCUMENT&contentSegment=&docId=GALE|CX3468302750>

"The 1970s: Law and Justice: Overview." American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 8: 1970-1979. Detroit: Gale, 2001.      Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 16 June 2010. "1970s: Sports and Games." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 4: 1960s-1970s. Detroit: UXL, 2002. 1009-1010. Gale Virtual      Reference Library. Web. 16 June 2010.


     "1970s: Print Culture." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 4: 1960s-1970s. Detroit: UXL, 2002. 997. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 June           2010.


"1970s: Music." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 4: 1960s-1970s. Detroit: UXL, 2002. 981-982. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 June 2010.