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A3 1970s Hedges

Page history last edited by Sidu Jena 10 years, 3 months ago




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




Business & the Economy


America in a Recession? - An Analysis of the Early 1970's

     The culture of the American population in the 1970’s greatly fluctuated with respect to previous decades, in terms of economic stability and business. Unemployment and inflation pose a serious threat to the quality of life for most average Americans, as well as a declining trust in American automobile companies and steel producers. For example, in 1972 alone, General Motors, an American automobile company, recalled an upwards of 350,000 defective cars, not to mention the other four million recalled by Ford during the same year. This growing distrust in American automobiles lead the American people to turn to new, growing automobile producers – Japan and Europe. During this decade, Japanese and European cars had a heavy impact on American roads and the domestic market – Japan surpassing Germany as the largest car importer in 1976 – and as a result, both producers became major parts of the everyday life lived by the average American (Baughman).

     During the 70’s, inflation and unemployment, as previously avowed, also made significant impacts on everyday American life. Both inflation and unemployment hit outrageous numbers that made Americans reminiscent of previous recessions. For example, from January to February, in 1970, the economic indicators fell by 1.8%, the greatest monthly economic decline since 1957’s recession. Earlier that year, inflation hit its highest since the Korean War at 6.1%. Then, in June, the unemployment rate finally drops significantly, and later on it had spiked back up to 5.8%. It is clear that these great fluctuations, just in one year, can affect the pride that Americans feel for their country. There were many strikes from American companies that happened alongside the growth of foreign automobile and steel markets. Though the foreign companies had their downfalls, what Americans expected of their own companies made them see American economic decline as much worse, which could be the main factor in the gaining the trust of foreign markets.


      It seems, however, that although, market-wise, some Americans were turning their eyes to foreign companies, in other aspects of the economy and environment, Americans started to care. Advertisement of cigarettes and other drugs severely declined during the 70’s. On January 21st of 1972, the government demanded that cigarette companies include health warnings on each container. In 1970, President Nixon signed an air quality control act that intended to improve the air quality in America by 90%, and on April 22nd of 1970, the first Earth Day takes place (Baughman).[1]



 America in Recovery - An analysis of the later 1970's 

            About halfway through the decade, the economic indicators showed a strong economic improvement. The spirit of Americans was revived as Alan Greenspan declared that the economic decline was, for all intent purposes, was over in 1975. From then on, economic indicators and fourth quarter indexes had shown successive improvement. However strikes and demands for increased wages had still not yet come to a complete halt. Though they did not come to a complete halt, some did stop - but only after they got what they asked for - higher wages and recognition. In an excerpt from David L. Perlman's, "The Surge of Public Employee Unionism," Perlman explains the extent to which public employees would strike to get their employers to meet their demands. He writes, "In the absence of any legal mandate, some public jurisdictions have applied common sense procedures to achieve a good bargaining relationship with unions. But in a rural Maryland county, 130 determined road workers struck for 227 days during 1970 before winning recognition of their union. And there, significantly, it took an election turnover of the county commissioners to bring an end to the longest public employee strike in the nation's history" (82).[2] The strike lasted for 227 days, but the workers did not rest until they got their recognition. This situation displays that the government was at least trying to prevent worker strikes.

            It is clear that American businesses and economy had an effect on American lifestyle but the question becomes, to what extent? In many cases, it had a large effect on the American lifestyle. Early on in the decade, American superiority was threatened with the increase of foreign goods in the market that worked either as efficiently or more efficiently. Especially with the car companies, Americans expected more because of the proclaimed superiority over other countries’ goods, however Japanese and German cars quickly stole the hearts and dollars of many Americans. Even with the early economic decline, America pulled together both its people, stained with the pride of surviving the great depression, and its economy, and came out on top later on in the decade, restoring its trust with many people with whom it had been lost before. Overall, the 1970’s was a decade filled with many economic surprises that most would not have predicted, given the way that the economy seemed to have been progressing pre-1970’s.




Throughout the 1970's segregation in schools impacted the culture and beliefs of times. A great majority of schools in America were segregated based on race, often many colored students never incurred any interaction with white students in a school environment. This same pattern held constant for teachers in the 70's, white teachers often teach colored but rarely do colored teachers teach white students. In its desegregation decision of 1954, the Supreme Court held that separate schools for Negro and white children are inherently unequal. Many studies conducted find that, when measured by that yardstick, American public education remained largely unequal in most regions of the country including all those where Negroes form any significant proportion of the population. The 1970's was the era in which great efforts were made to fix the segregated aspects if education. In many ways it was a great success, throughout the 70's many predomently white schools gained many minority students, and people who were not native to the language of English recieved appropriate attention to become profeccient English. Also, many disabled students were granted admission to public schools, and many women were granted employment in the schools. These additional students who were without proper school experience had a hindering effect on the standard of education. Many social movements originated in colleges and school environments, students were free to express their opinions relating to current events in politics, society, and in the environment. This expression of personal beliefs lead to a deadly massacre that claimed the life of 4 students at Kent State University. Also in the 70's the federal government became heavily involved in the public education process. In the economic aspects, the government provided aid to 9 million low-income students, enabling the less fortunate to learn in an equal environment. However, the government and congress failed to implement a federal education that would raise the standard of education in America. Education in the 1970's was severely impacted by social events of the time, the segregation, decline of education standards, and protests of political movements. [3]








     The people of the 1970s built on the diverse fashion foundation of the hippie style of the previous decade.  The androgynous tie dye shirts, miniskirts and bell-bottom pants carried on, but were built upon by fashion elements that are still widely referenced today.  One of these iconic fashion statements was platform shoes, which were shoes with about three-inch soles that became popular in the early 1970s.  They were worn by either gender.  Another popular style from either gender was that of loose-legged, wide jeans.  Women also switched off between the short miniskirts, to a maxi dress or a midi skirt each day.  Miniskirts became very popular and were just extremely short skirts.  Midi skirts were, often colorful, skirts that went down to about knee-level.  Maxi dresses were dresses that reached the ankle area.  Men’s formal dress items, such as ties also got larger and became much more vivid and colorful.



     The disco influence of the era was also quite evident in the late 70’s.  Three-piece suits became very popular among men, which were made in various colors.  The vest would be a vibrant set of colors, and the outer jacket would match the vest.

          Three-Piece Suit (pictured above)            Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta, set the bar for the disco look around the country.


     After the popular Farrah Fawcett released her poster depicting her in a one-piece swimsuit, one-piece swimsuits became a nationwide fad.  They were very tight, had a low-cut neck, and had a high-cut bottom.

     Towards the end of the decade, punk fashion, although not as popular in the US when compared to in the United Kingdom, became a fad.  It involved torn and ripped jeans, t-shirts and jackets, and messy hair.  More extreme punk individuals tended to dye their hair dark black, wear tight black pants (often called PVC), dirty shoes, and/or safety pins.

This was the typical depiction of punk fashion.


Film and theater


     During the 1970s, movies began attracting more people to theaters. Starting in this time period, movies that were designed to appeal to the public attracted large crowds of people, and were called 'blockbusters' due to their popularity. The first blockbuster of the 1970s was 'The Godfather,' which portrayed criminals in a 'mafia' that committed crimes to achieve success in the United States (Edelman). However, the blockbuster 'Jaws' broke many previous records and made $100 million in less than six months, and surpassed 'The Godfather' in box office sales (Gomery). Additionally, the Star Wars franchise began with Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), and became the 3rd largest grossing series in film. 


Jaws         The  Godfather

"Jaws"                                        Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope             "Don" Vito Corleone of "The Godfather"


     In the film industry, African American actors began to play roles in more prominent movies and they performed in ‘all-black’ movies. For many, this modeled how racial tensions had decreased and African Americans were accepted in American society. However, others saw this as a form of racism in itself, and deemed these films "blaxploitation". The movies were geared towards urban black audiences, and featured negatively stereotyped black and white characters in a ghetto or city setting, usually to a backdrop of catchy soul music. An example of such a film is "Shaft". The stereotypes portrayed in blaxploitation films and in other films with multiracial casts were quite edgy, especially for a time of attempted integration and racial peace.

Food & Drink

     In the 1970s, pre-packaged foods were becoming ever more popular with the everyday suburban family. Lunch meals were revolutionized with such staples as Doritos, Danimals Yogurt, and Hostess Fruit Cakes. This craze occurred a short while before the American health system realized how potentially harmful this new lifestyle was for the American people. The excess fat and sugar in these new foods played a highly detrimental role on human health, clogging arteries, raising blood sugar levels, and causing heightened rates of diabetes, among other diseases.

Because of this, packaging for these new and extravagant foods was often psychedelic and colorful, with the intention of attracting a younger consumer group. Even after the dangerous health risks associated with processed foods and fillers were found, hysteria continued to build. The politician-turned-assassin Dan White, who was responsible for the murders of San Francisco politicians Harvey Milk and George Moscone, was granted clemency when his lawyer argued that his heavy consumption of sugary foods such as Twinkies played a part in his behavior.
     However, consumerism was no match for a blatant disregard of the norm. The emerging trend in the 1970s was for the newly "enlightened" youth to disregard, and even rebel against, the conforms of society. Even as the popularity of packaged foods continued to grow, many were reverting to "natural" dietary habits (vegetarianism), subsiding on yogurt and fruit and using soy as their main protein source. New influence from China and India had the American youth turning to tofu and curries for their meals, and it is partly due to this "dietary revolution" that these foods are so prevalent in our country today.
     The beverage industry was another story all together. The newfound self-liberation of the American youth firmly established the "party culture" that was characterized by drug use, loud music, and numerous alcoholic beverages, such as alcohol-infused punch bowls, Mai Tais and Daiquiris. Perhaps as a direct result, alcohol was involved in a record 60% of traffic-related accidents over the course of the seventies. On the non-alcoholic side of things, the now all-powerful Starbucks chain was founded in 1971 by Howard Schultz, who wanted to create a trendy way to bring coffee to the 

Print Culture

     During the 1970’s, authors of popular novels in the United States began shifting from white American male writers to minorities, such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, and people living outside the United States, such as Gabriel García Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges.

     Additionally, new topics were presented in the form of novels, such as spying and global political intrigue, and they often appealed to the public, making novels that made the best-sellers list. In this time period, the famous horror writer, Stephen King, began writing novels that would appear on the best-sellers list for the rest of the century.

     Magazines began appealing to people of different interests, with new magazines being created for different purposes. The objective of the magazine ‘Ms.’ was to confront the issues women faced in America, such as “women's economic and psychological oppression, abortion, and lesbianism,” and aimed to be more radical than the existing women’s magazine that focused on traditional women’s roles. Another prominent magazine would be ‘People’, which “aimed to provide upscale gossip and photos to Americans hungry for any word on celebrities.” ‘People’ influenced the information industry on how celebrities were covered; with several pictures and exclusive interviews.

     Also during the 1970s, the acclaimed comic-strips Garfield and Cathy were created, providing entertainment to the people of America. Cathy exemplified the women’s liberation movement of the early 1970s, with the main character, Cathy, trying to fit into both her roles as an employee and as a young woman.


The first Garfield comic-strip, appearing on June 19, 1978.

     The print media in the 1970s was more focused on capturing the hedonistic acts of society than shaping a society itself. The youth of the seventies were driven with the urge to separate themselves from the (perceived) hypocrisy and wastefulness of their parents. Due to this urge, they often acted out in various ways, and the press faithfully recorded their acts of resentful disobedience. This began with Woodstock in the summer of 1969, and continued to Media Burn in 1975. In a more serious note, urban violence greatly increased, not only in America but also all over the globe. The black supremacist group the Death Angels went on a spree of killings in San Francisco that were shocking in their brutality, and put to rest any hope that racial peace could finally be achieved within the decade. Part of the fear that was propagated was due to the petrifying headlines that appeared every day in the San Francisco newspapers. 


Sports & Games

     The 1970s was a golden age for many athletes, the most notable being Muhammad Ali, Mark Spitz, O.J. Simpson, and Billie Jean King. Read a little bit about these accomplished individuals:

Muhammad Ali

     The self-proclaimed "Greatest" did indeed live up to his title. Fighting a record number of heavyweight challenges, up to six a year, Cassius Clay, who later adopted a Muslim name to the shock of the sporting community, made more than $26 million in winnings in his boxing career. As would be expected, his most celebrated fights were against fellow boxing greats such as Joe Frazier and Sonny Liston. But the man that the press dubbed "The Louisville Lip" brought an element to the ring totally separate from his ferocious skill as a boxer. Ali was flamboyant, confident, brash: everything that was needed to bring more publicity to his sport and to make him the face of boxing for years to come.


Mark Spitz

     The inspiration for Michael Phelps, considered to be one of the greatest athletes of the 21st century, was Mark Spitz. Like Phelps, Spitz won a (then) record number of Olympic gold medals, and was also a swimmer, specializing in the freestyle and breaststroke. Out of the water, his dashing good looks and charm won him countless fans and kept many glued to their TV sets during the Olympics. His classic olympian pose, bare chested with his seven gold medals swung across his torso, inspired many young athletes to take up competitive swimming.


O.J. Simpson

     Before the accusations and the hearings, before the scandal and the shame, Orenthal James "Juice" Simpson was every little boy's hero. In college, he played football and ran track for the University of Southern California, but it was his brilliant speed and strategy on the football field that set him far above his competitors, leading to his Heisman trophy win in 1968. 1970s America saw a young Simpson emerging into the NFL, a seemingly invincible opponent who inspired his fans and struck fear into the heart of every opponent.


Billie Jean King

     Women's tennis had traditionally taken a back burner to the more "intense, sophisticated" mens tournaments. However, that all changed with King's entrance onto the court. A strong willed individual both on and off the court, Billie Jean King spoke out aggressively for women's rights, and, after her announcement to the public that she was a lesbian, was the forefront of the gay rights movement as well. The pinnacle of her crusade was the famous "Battle of the Sexes" in 1973, in which King defeated self-described male chauvinist pig and former World #1 Bobby Riggs. The context of the match, however, must be taken into context: Riggs was at that time a retired tennis champion, and recognized the need of women's tennis for publicity. He created an artificially chauvinistic persona and publicized it to create hype for the match. Although his plans were widely known, women's tennis received a much-needed boost in publicity, and King became its champion.


 The sports scene in the 1970s was that of young, unique athletes breaking the mold, their personalities as amazing and diverse as their unrivaled accomplishments. Although these "mold breakers" were much more mainstream and accepted around the world, at heart they embodied the newly emerging values of 1970s youth. 




     The music of the 1970s provided a seamless bridge between the music of the 1960s and then the 1980s.  The music of the 1960s was flooded with rebellious lyrics, while the 1980s was an era of happy, cheerful music.  The 1970s bridged the two with a series of relaxing and dance music.  Much of the population sought escape from the wild 60’s through the music of this decade.  With that ideal, dance clubs became a popular way to have fun and escape, influencing the disco movement.  Even though it was not long-lived, but disco became a well-liked form of music and dance that is still visible today in society.  It was a very lively, yet silly style of music and for this reason did not last very long.  While it was prominent however, it produced some of the most famous artists and songs known today.  Many of the albums made throughout the 1970's "netted their producers good profits, [and] are becoming trendy again" (Harrison). The silly and wild albums covers of this era also are becoming popular again, being collected and admired by many young art students.


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One of the most well known disco songs is "Do The Hustle", by Von Mccoy.


Aside from disco, progressive rock became increasingly popular during this time.  This style of music combined rock music and some other sort of music.  The bands and artists that emerged within this style were generally very creative and put much thought into their music.  “Concept albums” (albums that have a repeated theme or message) were common among the bands and artists in this genre.

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"Another Brick in the Wall" is a song off Pink Floyd's The Wall, a concept album exploring loneliness.


Although not as prominent, punk rock was also created in the decade.  This music of this genre built on the rebellious style of the 1960’s, but with a much harsher quality.



The Ramones (pictured above) are commonly recognized as the first punk band.


Government & Politics


 Amidst two intense wars the U.S. was involved in many other crisis's that set the politics of the 70's apart from other eras. One major issue that was the forefront of many political debates was the energy and oil crisis in the 1970's. The international oil embargo of the middle east brought about widespread panic and confusion. Due to religious conflicts the middle eastern countries halted importing oil to countries around the world. This sudden stop cause a dramatic increase in the prices of gasoline at the time, this left consumers in America worried about the oil supply. Politicians soon realized the overwhelming impact of oil prices on foreign policy. This sparked the debate about the government or the market controlling production and consumption of gasoline. President Jimmy Carter's administration offered a new perspective in deregulating the energy industry, in terms of production and consumption. Unfortunately this caused the dependency of foreign oil only grow, while domestic production slowly declined. The immense reliance on the foreign oil drove the prices higher, causing many debates that gained awareness for America's apparent energy problem. In the following years the congress passed several acts that facilitated the research and development of alternative energy sources. The government created many agencies that encouraged the usage of less harmful methods of transportation such as carpooling, fuel-efficient cars, and mass transit. The energy crisis of the 1970's posed many severe threats to the foreign policy and lifestyles of Americans, and in the end the American government handled the issue efficiently by identifying the problem, and providing appropriate solutions to relieve America's energy dependence (Khatkhate).



In 1973 the Vietnam war came to a close, this was called the "biggest military failure" in American History. The U.S. allowed South Vietnam to escape from the communist oppression of North Vietnam. The war claimed the lives of many American service men and lead to the loss of faith in the American government (Vietnam War). 





“I ask you to share with me today the majesty of this moment. In the orderly transfer of power, we celebrate the unity that keeps us free. Each moment in history is a fleeting time, precious and unique. But some stand out as moments of beginning, in which courses are set that shape decades or centuries. This can be such a moment.   Forces now are converging that make possible, for the first time, the hope that many of man's deepest aspirations can at last be realized. The spiraling pace of change allows us to contemplate, within our own lifetime, advances that once would have taken centuries. In throwing wide the horizons of space, we have discovered new horizons on earth. For the first time, because the people of the world want peace, and the leaders of the world are afraid of war, the times are on the side of peace. Eight years from now America will celebrate its 200th anniversary as a nation. Within the lifetime of most people now living, mankind will celebrate that great, new year which comes only once in a thousand years—the beginning of the third millennium. What kind of nation we will be? What kind of world we will live in? Whether we shape the future in the image of our hopes is ours to determine by our actions and our choices.” President Richard Nixon


     The above excerpt from President Richard Nixon’s speech characterizes and sparks the start of the decade. A new focus on self-discovery, America individually, and personal freedom can be easily seen from Nixon’s Inaugural speech. But just how great of a leader was Nixon?

     The Vietnam war was no less a problem when Nixon was president than it was when Lyndon Johnson was president. However, Nixon had a different approach. He had believed that the war was “unwinnable” in any sense, but he also thought that the public, citizens of America, would be furious with withdrawal or escalation of the war, and that it would diminish the political standards from which he is viewed by the public and internationally. Faced with this unfortunate predicament, Nixon devised a strategy that he felt would work, consisting of the following ideas:

1.)    Vietnamization

2.)    The “Madman” Theory

3.)    Triangular Diplomacy


     His main approach was Vietnamization, though he did escalate the war and eventually withdraw. Vietnamization is the process of replacing American soldiers with South Vietnamese soldiers to fight in the Vietnam War, reducing the amount of American fight troops.

     The “Madman” Theory was a negotiation tactic that Nixon used on North Vietnam. He and his advisors would say that he was an unpredictable, fierce leader in order to scare the Vietnamese. He did things that helped these arguments such as secretly bombing Cambodia. He comments on his “Madman” Theory, stating:


"I call it the Madman Theory, Bob. I want the North Vietnamese to believe I've reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We'll just slip the word to them that, 'for God's sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about Communism. We can't restrain him when he's angry -- and he has his hand on the nuclear button' -- and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace."- President Nixon


     His third policy was Triangular Diplomacy. This was the idea that the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China were interested in removing tensions from the Cold War and expanding social and economic relations. Nixon believed he could persuade both China and Russia to pressure North Vietnam into settling the war.

     Nixon’s leadership goals were quite characteristic of the 1970’s because they mimic the expression of national development and pride for one’s nation. Nixon stretched for good political image, but did quite the opposite – he led the nation into one of its most embarrassing losses, and eventually resigned, himself. Though he wanted to write his own history as one of the greatest presidents, he wrote his history as a president that could not lead the country to a successful war, though the war’s fate may have been predetermined.

     After being exposed for the Watergate scandal, a break-in into the Democratic National Committee, Nixon resigned and his administration was convicted. Gerald Ford, his successor, pardoned him and took the seat as President of the United States. Gerald Ford, to many, restored the order that Nixon disrupted and essentially eased the country through most of the 1970’s. During his time as President, the powers of the executive branch, including complete control of foreign policy, were decreasing, and congress was gaining more control. However Ford’s foreign policy ideas remained détente, as he continued to ease tensions with both China and Soviet Russia from the Cold War and increase intercontinental trade. In 1976, when he ran for his second presidential term, he won the Republican nomination, but ultimately lost the general election to a Democrat, Jimmy Carter.


Law & Justice


     The wiretapping scandals breaking out in the White House came as a shock to many, but upon closer inspection they were merely following an all-too-familiar trend. To many citizens, America in the 1970s was a sad time, due to the escalating rates of violence as well as the fact that nothing was being done about them. America was not alone: numerous countries experienced increased violent crime rates as well, due to racial, political, or societal tension. However, the violence in America shattered our notions of safety and security, and created a host of new fears. Unfortunately, the gang members and radicals that were all too often behind the violence were quite young, and because of this and also because of their growing rebelliousness, teenagers in general were treated with caution.

      The younger generation faced persecution at alarming rates, but the older set had its own problems. Corruption ran rampant as businessmen, political leaders, and even sports figures sought to profit from the chaos around them. The American law enforcement and justice systems were forced to develop and adapt greatly to combat these new waves of crime.

     An example of this forced change is the creation of the Asian Gang Task Force division of the San Francisco Police Department. The horrific Golden Dragon Massacre, which took place at the Golden Dragon restaurant in San Francisco's Chinatown, was a culmination of a bitter feud between the Chung Ching Yee gang and the Wah Ching gang. The great increase in teenage deaths caused in part by gang violence is shown below.




     In the 1970’s, the influence of Mainline Protestant churches began waning, with more members leaving to join other religious groups or for new modes of worship. The events of the 1970’s greatly influenced the decline of the Mainline Protestant, such as the Vietnam War. Leaders were adamant against American involvement in the Vietnam War, and could influence the government better than the actions of the organized antiwar movement.

     As a result of the growing feminist movement, religious groups were pressured in the 1970’s to allow women into the ministry. In the past, some faiths accepted women into the ministry, and by the end of the 1970’s, most of the denominations allowed the practice.

     The number of conservative Protestants promptly increased in the 1970s and the people were named Evangelists. People joining the Evangelists reflected its increase in influence in the economy and politics. After their membership grew, Evangelists began debating cultural and social issues, such as abortion, gay rights, and the Equal Rights Amendment.

     The new Evangelists used the popular medium of television to convey their religion, and were able to preach to millions of people of different demographics. Evangelists that communicated their ideas through the television were called 'televangelists.'

     After the Arab-Israel war of 1937, Jewish people around the world began associating themselves with the Jewish state of Israel. When Arabs attacked Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, the Israeli forces were almost destroyed, until American military equipment was sent to the Israeli.

     Throughout the 1970s, many new religions were introduced into America and were growing in members. Although many were tolerant of the new religions, some religions targeted younger Americans and taught them beliefs that disengaged them from their traditional beliefs and their community. As these cults began growing, people began to fear them, since their teachings were radically different from traditional teachings. The height of the fear occurred in 1978, when Jim Jones and almost a thousand followers into a 'revolutionary suicide.'






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

     The 1970s were heavily shaped by behavior. Dramatic alterations in the way that people viewed their roles in society and in the world took large precedence over improvements in technology and developments in government. The baby boomer generation of Americans were the most susceptible to change, and their vast numbers made the "70s revolution" all the more prevalent. The spirit of the seventies was unique: that of a society stretched to the breaking point and tired of consumerism, conformism, war, all the tangible and oppressive elements of civilization. This society embraced change in any form possible, a complete overthrowing of "normal" lifestyle. Nearly every aspect of American culture during the seventies was revolutionary, with varying effects. These dramatic culture dynamics led to history-shaping events that further defined the new, post-WWII America. Lastly, the leadership that America was under at the time sculpted the nation and reinforced the changes that were occurring at the time.


     The American culture was catapulted into a totally different realm by the end of the seventies. From clothing to movies, from newspapers to food, thousands of changes occurred in the way Americans lived their lives. Countering the expected trend of modernization, most aspects of living were greatly simplified. The long reign of processed food came to an end, as organics climbed to the top of countless shopping lists. Simple clothing was lauded as the newest style, and minimalist, natural furniture took its place in numerous homes. Americans wanted less control, and more natural flow. The philosophy of many in the seventies was that simplification is natural and that it leads to a better lifestyle.


     It is debatable whether this was a good philosophy to follow, given the fact that many conflicts were breaking out both in America as well as all over the globe. The most prolific of these by far was, of course, the Vietnam War. Throughout the seventies, headlines blared the latest scandals, disasters, and victories changing the face of American history. While the cultural changes outlined above were occurring, Vietnam was the subject and location of much turmoil. The decisions made in the battle against the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong offensives created as much violence back home as they did in Vietnam. Examples are the Kent State Massacre of 1970.


     The leadership in the 1970s did not have a high approval among the people of America. As hasty and often corrupted decisions were made, events such as the Watergate scandal and continuing the Vietnam War changed how the people viewed the government, leading to the American people gradually finding that every administration has its flaws. Other events, such as the economic recession of 1974, shaped the lifestyle of the American person, making them comprehend their economic situation and choose to be more prudent in their purchases. This, in part, "sobered up" America to the harshness of reality, greatly combating the peaceful and relaxed, "natural life" promoted by the hippie culture. 


     Conclusively, we can say that America was greatly influenced by all three driving forces taking place during the seventies. Like a child growing and maturing, the American people were elated and at the same time disquieted by the events, cultural changes, and political turmoil surrounding them. America emerged from the 1970's a changed country, and the decade, far from being a "lost decade" was essential in its development as a nation.



Works Cited


Davis Jim. (Online Image) Web. 3 Jun. 2010 

Edelman, Rob. "The Godfather." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 4: 1960s-1970s. Detroit: UXL, 2002. 966-968. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 24 May 2010.

Gomery, Douglas. "Jaws." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. 4th ed. Vol. 1: Films. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000. 584-586. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 24 May 2010.

Harrison, Tim. "Fab! Groovy! Those naff covers are hits again." Times Nov 10, n64486 1992: 14. General OneFile. Web. 6 June 2010.

Khatkhate, Deena. "Economic Policy under Planning, Aspects of." Encyclopedia of India. Ed. Stanley Wolpert. Vol. 2. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006. 12-15. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 7 June 2010.

Koterba, Jeff. (Online Image) Web. 3 Jun. 2010

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Schnakenberg, Robert E. "Shaft." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 4: 1960s-1970s. Detroit: UXL, 2002. 976-977. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 8 June 2010.

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Hines, Thomas. The Great Funk: Falling Apart and Coming Together (On a Shag Rug) in the Seventies. Susan Crichton Press, New York. 2007.



  1. "Business and the Economy: Important Events of the 1970s." American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 8: 1970-1979. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 1 June 2010.
  2. "The Surge of Public Employee Unionism." American Decades Primary Sources. Ed. Cynthia Rose. Vol. 8: 1970-1979. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 80-83. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 1 June 2010.
  3. "Excerpt from Equality of Educational Opportunity (Coleman Report)." American Decades CD-ROM. Gale Research, 1998. Reproduced in History Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/HistRC/

Comments (1)

Sidu Jena said

at 3:30 pm on Jun 12, 2010

the last word on the food and drink section should be "masses". i dont know how that got cut off. Sorry.

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