How did the Great Depression impact American race relations, women, feminism, and family structure and behavior?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Initially, during the Great Depression, there was a backlash against the advances that women had made into the workforce. As jobs were scarce, and part of the masculine identity of the period was being a family "breadwinner", working women were often vilified by the patriarchal men of the period as taking jobs away from men. Minimum wage and other labor laws aimed at protecting men's jobs often offered unequal protections to women or feminized careers. It was not until World War II required men to go to war that women were encouraged to rejoin the labor force, at which time their contributions became more valued.

At the beginning of the Great Depression, most blacks were already living in poverty and were victims of racial discrimination, but the Great Depression made their situation far worse. Racial discrimination increased because jobs were so scarce that whites resented blacks taking any jobs in the cities at all and whites would attack or intimidate blacks with jobs in order to create job vacancies.

jraineharrison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Great Depression had a tremendous impact on the sociocultural environment in America.  Previous roles in society were changed because of the economic issues the country faced. 

Race relations were changed because of the change of the workforce.  Particular races were not the only ones vying for migrant worker or farming jobs.  Out of work men all over the country were competing for whatever job they could get.  

The role of women as potential wage earners also increased during the Great Depression.  Even prior to WWII, women were attempting to earn wages to support their families.  This helped promote women as more than caregivers and homemakers.  

Because of lack of money, many families had to do more with less.  Many people were malnourished, and children stayed home because they could not afford to go to school. 

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