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The Decay of the American Culture Essay

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Anxiety and affluence are terms that are often applied to the post war decades in an attempt to define them. The newfound wealth that Americans enjoyed after World War II wrought changes on the American social landscape that many may not have been able to predict. The push for heavy consumerism that accompanied the sudden upswing of the U.S. economy gave way to concerns about the decay of moral character in the American home. Increasingly filled with anxieties over the ever-present threat of Communism, which most Americans were aware was an issue they themselves could do little about, the population instead turned towards new distractions, such as television, to attempt to reclaim some sense of dominance in a world they no longer quite recognized. The failure of the device to soothe the nerves of anxious Americans can easily serve as a symbol for any case in which American prosperity increased, rather than alleviated, post war fears.
The years immediately following World War II were themselves an era of profound change for many Americans. Affluence was a relatively unknown condition in American society, and many struggled to understand what it would mean for them. A pamphlet distributed by the Advertising Council, Inc. entitled “The Miracle of America” was a method by which American advertisers sought to convince Americans of the value and importance of mass consumption. In it, Uncle Sam explains to a family that the reason why the American economic system is superior is due to its devotion to increasing the production of goods for the population to consume. In this description, the reason behind the increase in production of goods is stated as being so that “(Americans) can buy more…” Uncle Sam soon goes on to tell Jun...


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...ted by Robert Griffith and Paula Baker, 98-107. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.

Newsweek. “The Problem Grows Worse … What to Do When Kids Shoot Down Kids?” in Major Problems in American History Since 1945, edited by Robert Griffith and Paula Baker, 86. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.

Packard, Vance. “Vance Packard Warns Against the ‘Hidden Persuaders’.” In Major Problems in American History Since 1945, edited by Robert Griffith and Paula Baker, 94. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.

Shrum, Kelly. “Making the American Girl.” In Major Problems in American History Since 1945, edited by Robert Griffith and Paula Baker, 111. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.

U.S. News and World Report. “What TV Is Doing to America.” In Major Problems in American History Since 1945, edited by Robert Griffith and Paula Baker, 90-92. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.



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