According to social critics, what were the weakness of American society in the 1950s?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Social critics would point to the lack of representation as one of the glaring weaknesses of the 1950s.  In the midst of the resolution to the Second World War, America was enjoying unprecedented economic and social success.  Within thie veneer of success, there was a lack of representation of differing narratives.  Women, for example, were not being represented in terms of being able to articulate their wants and desires.  It is within this time period that Betty Friedan publishes her work, The Feminine Mystique, to begin the process of articulation and empowerment which helps to define the 1960s.  At the same time, African- Americans were not being represented as segregation was common practice in the South and covert racism was the norm in many parts of the North.  It is at this time when leaders such as Dr. King begin their campaign for representation.  Finally, the "American Dream" begins to gain traction at this time and the implication was that monetary success was the benchmark for success.  Those who were not deemed a material success were not seen as being successful.  This creates a taxing burden on individuals to pursue illusory notions of dreams and happiness, creating pursuits which could be seen as shallow at best.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both of the above answers are correct, but neither of them spells out one of the major criticisms of that time in American social history.

One of the major complaints about the time was that all the people were said to be conformist and were said to be concerned with nothing but money.

The idea of conformity was attacked in such books (and movies) as the "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit" and "Organization Man."  It also gave rise to such people as the "Beat Generation" and to the popularity of James Dean.

mkcapen1 | Student

The 1950’s were a time of change for America.  The war had been over for long enough that Americans were re-settling into their lives.   Rock music made the scene as well as radical new ideas among America's youth.

America was living in an economy that was on the upswing.  For African Americans the time of limited rights was coming to an end.  America failed to realize the impact that log term restriction of rights would have on the communities.  It became a boiling pot of civil rights protests and the country was strained.

Teenagers began to experience a significant generation gap.  They became more outspoken and conflict was evident between the generations as parents resented that the teens had become lazy and used to having money to spend without having o work hard to get it.

It was also a time of a strong political climate that was created by the Cold War with communism.  Suspicions were high concerning the infiltration of communists.  People like McCarthy were allowed to violate the rights of Americans and the public supported it.  Many people were black listed and could not get employment or lost jobs once they were put on the list.  The country was at risk of destroying the rights established in the constitution.

America became a materialistic society which changed the face of America from the wholesome farm family to the office trend setter.  The patterns of spending appeared to be good at first and capitalism abounded.  However, the poor families still suffered even more as the gap between incomes widened.