Analyze how the United States began to modernize and how many Americans clung to traditional values in the 1920s?  

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One of the most often overlooked areas of modernization in the United States during the 1920s is the introduction of the teenager culture and the growth of entertainment. Amusement parks were one of the growing industries that impacted the culture and played an important role in changing the landscape of...

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One of the most often overlooked areas of modernization in the United States during the 1920s is the introduction of the teenager culture and the growth of entertainment. Amusement parks were one of the growing industries that impacted the culture and played an important role in changing the landscape of America. As Americans saw an increase in money and leisure time, business-minded investors saw it as an opportunity to generate revenue.

In the book Amusing the Million, historian John F. Kasson explains that amusement parks like Coney Island led to the unification of a “nationalistic mass culture,” while also providing an escape from society and work. This eventually ushered in new technology and modernizations like radio and movie markets (pgs. 4–8). Modernization also took place with newer technologies that made thrilling rides and attractions possible, like the Ferris wheel. Amusement parks and the entertainment culture also ushered in the modernizing of towns, as amenities like hotels, restaurants, and parks increased to accommodate travelers. Add to that the modernization of roads and mass transportation that linked towns to the parks.

While amusement parks, and entertainment in general, became a destination conducive to all people, there were plenty of critics who saw the rise of the independent teenager as a threat to traditional values linked to staying home. The shifting culture of entertainment only continued in the next decade with the ushering in of movies and, eventually, affordable cars.

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During the 1920s, America began to modernize following World War I. Many people moved to cities from rural areas, and the culture of these areas began to change. For example, the "New Woman" was more cosmopolitan than the ideal figure of a woman from earlier generations, and the flapper, a figure of popular culture, was freer than women had been in the past. In addition, cars made people more mobile and more willing to move to new areas. The growth of radio and motion pictures spread modern ideas.

At the same time, rural areas clung to traditional ideas. The Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925 in Tennessee involved a science teacher who had been found guilty of teaching evolution, which was not allowed in schools in that state. During the trial, the teacher was found guilty but given a light sentence. This trial highlighted the ongoing cultural battle between those who treated the Bible as gospel, even in matters of science, and those who turned to more scientific, modern explanations of natural events.

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The 1920's was a dynamic time in American culture.  It was a time of great social change as women exerted their political and social rights and finally exercised their right to vote.  African-Americans also pursued economic and political opportunities and created organizations like the NAACP and UNIA to protect and pursue their interests.  Technological innovations made the country smaller as more and more Americans could afford to purchase an automobile and air travel was a reality.  The Twenties was also the birth of the radio age as the first station, KDKA, made the airways.  The 1920's also saw the rise of the consumer economy as household technologies like the washing machine and refrigerator became more available and made household chores easier.  Despite the rapid nature of change evident in the 1920's many Americans resisted.

The 1920's can also be considered a decade of resistance to change.  There was a fierce wave of nativism and xenophobia that saw the Ku Klux Klan become more popular than ever.  The movement was aimed at slowing down the flow of new immigrants from south and east Europe.  The Prohibition Amendment, which outlawed the manufacture, sale, and distribution of alcohol, was another attempt to cling to traditional American values.  The most popular trial of the decade dealt with the issue of teaching evolution in America's schools.  While the Scopes Trial did not decide this issue, it did point to a major conflict that existed between traditionalists and modernists in the 1920's

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