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What were the most influential social movements and trends in the U.S. during the 1970s?
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Middle School Teacher
The rise and emergence of feminism in the 1970s is one of the most significant social movements. This trend helped to define the time period. The emergence of "the politics of empathy" was one of the most significant and transformative movements of the 1970s. Feminism changed every aspect of the social order. Families were fundamentally transformed as women explored new aspects of their identity that existed outside of the domestic realm. With the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, public policy reflected the emergence of this social reality. Women were able to appropriate control over their own bodies and, in the process, helped to transform public discourse. This same discussion extended into the Equal Rights Amendment, and legislative action that ensured equality between the genders. The social trend of feminism helped to transform what society could be and helped to expand such possibilities.
Interestingly enough, an equally dominant social trend of the time period was the decrease in radicalism that had emerged in the previous decade. The election of Richard Nixon as well as the rise of "the silent majority" did much to reduce the radical thought that has defined the 1960s. Americans were feeling the crunch of an economic crisis in the 1970s, which did much to dampen or decrease the hopeful notion that radicalism of the 1960s. The 1970s featured a perception that America, as a nation, was losing control. Crime spiraled upwards, cities became intense reservoirs of blight and neglect, and Americans felt more unsafe about the world and their place in it. In 1976, fictional newscaster Howard Beale captured this essence of what defined 1970s. His words in the film Network went very far in expressing a dominant social trend that rebelled against the unifying and collection radicalism of the previous decade:
We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. And we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be! We all know things are bad -- worse than bad -- they're crazy.It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we're living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, "Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials, and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone."
Beale's speech serves as a reminder that the 1970s featured a dominant social trend that decreased radical thought that sought transformation of the world and the individual's place in it. This rejection of radicalism asserted a quality of negative freedom, a condition that stressed the only potential for happiness existed in being left alone.
Posted by akannan on January 31, 2014 at 3:58 AM (Answer #1)
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